April 2013 Employment Report: “The Economy is Not Working for Most People” Says Chicago Political Economy Group

On April 24 two groups of young people met up on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, and it wasn’t for the shopping. One group was striking retail and fast food workers who had walked off the job to protest low wages and demand a $15 minimum wage for downtown workers. The other group was students protesting Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s school closings. Many of the striking workers were only a few years older than the students.

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Inequitable education policies like those of the Chicago Public Schools fall most heavily on low-income communities. Dictates from above that disrupt neighborhoods — closing schools, firing school staff, reducing education to performance on high stakes testing — with no voice from those affected don’t produce schools or encourage low-income students to assert themselves and demand a better life for themselves and their families. Last Wednesday the youth of Chicago taught us what we should already know: the economy is not working for most people in the U.S.

April’s employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is less exciting than strikes and street action, but we should learn the same lesson. The report beat expectations, but the unemployment rate barely changed at 7.5 percent, labor force participation is actually down slightly, remaining stubbornly low at 63.3 percent, and more workers who need full-time work are employed part time.

The labor force participation rate and high rate of involuntary part-time workers show once again that the economy is not able to create adequate jobs for our growing population, to truly recover from the Lesser Depression, or to provide workers with the income they need to meet their basic needs.  The rise in involuntary part-time employment helped bump the broader measure of unemployment that includes those workers as well as discouraged workers (“U-6”) up to 13.9 percent.

What job growth we did see in April is welcome, but troublingly concentrated in low-wage sectors or unstable temporary work. In April, 19 percent of the new jobs were in temporary help services and 18 percent were in retail, the sector that includes the same employers that workers struck in Chicago because they can’t survive on the low wages. A cruel side of conventional wisdom would say they should be happy just to have a job. Certainly that could be the lesson African-American and Latino workers and students could have learned from the disproportionately high unemployment rates in their communities. The unemployment rate for African Americans is 13.2 percent and a shocking 40.5 percent for teenagers. For Latinos the rate is 9 percent, 28 percent for teenagers .Compare that to unemployment for white workers at 6.7 percent overall and 21.8 percent for teenagers.

But all workers are feeling the squeeze. The April BLS report shows average hourly wages for workers increased by only two cents, which doesn’t even make up for the decline in wages in March. Thankfully, workers and students have learned that jobs, income, and education are all serious problems and are all part of the same struggle for economic justice. We hope policy makers will heed that lesson and act to implement a jobs program with living wages instead of tinkering with the details of sequestration and planning the next round of budget cuts.

The April report may still be greeted with relief because it is not as bad as anticipated, and because February and March employment numbers were revised upwards. This is a privileged view. For the 11.7 million unemployed workers, the 7.9 million workers making ends meet with part-time jobs, and the millions of workers whose low wages show little sign of rising, “beating expectations” still sounds like a bad joke.

The Chicago Political Economy Group continues to support comprehensive job creation proposals, such as Rep. John Conyers' HR 1000, “The 21st Century Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment and Training Act.”

Sharon Post is Research Director at SEIU Health Care Illinois/Indiana, a union of home care, hospital, nursing home, and child care workers, and a member of the Chicago Political Economy Group.

Grassroots Fundraising: Paying for the Revolution (9pm Eastern)

June 23, 2017
· 46 rsvps

Are you new to socialist organizing? Or after many years do you still struggle, raising money from members when you need it but without a steady flow of income or budget to plan ahead? Are you afraid to tackle fundraising because it seems so daunting or you are uncomfortable asking people for money?

In this webinar, you will learn why fundraising is organizing, and how to do it – face to face, through fundraising events, and other ideas.

Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.

Instructor:

  • Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy

Training Details:

  1. Workshops are free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have preferably headphones or else speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt talt@igc.org.
  5. If you have very technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt schmittaj@gmail.com 608-355-6568.
  6. Participation requires that you register at least 21 hours in advance -- by midnight Thursday for Friday's webinar.

NOTE: This training is scheduled for 9:00pm Eastern Time (8pm Central, 7pm Mountain, 6pm Pacific, 5 pm Alaska, 3 pm Hawaii).

Introduction to Socialist Feminism Call

June 27, 2017
· 68 rsvps

Join DSA activist Judith Gardiner to explore “socialist feminism.” How does it differ from other forms of feminism? How and when did it develop? What does it mean for our activism? 9 pm ET, 8 pm CT, 7 pm MT, 6 pm PT.

Data Security for DSA Members

June 27, 2017

Ack! I googled myself and didn't like what I found!

WHAT: A DSA Webinar about "Doxing"
WHEN: 9PM EST, 6PM PST

We're proud of our organizing, and chapter work is transparent for both political and practical reasons. However, there are basic precautions you can take in this time of rapid DSA growth to protect your privacy.

Key Wiki is a website that meticulously documents DSA activity and posts it for the world to see. If you're an active DSA member, likely your name is on their website. This is an example of "doxing".

As DSA becomes larger, more visible, and more powerful, we might expect that more websites like this will pop up, and more of our members' information might be posted publicly on the web.

Join a live webinar on Tuesday, June 27 with data security expert Alison Macrina, to learn:

  1. what is doxing? with examples and ways to prevent it
  2. how to keep your passwords strong and your data secure
  3. where to find your personal info on the internet and how to get it removed
  4. social media best practices for DSA organizers
  5. what to do if you've already been doxed

Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/9173276528

Call-in Info: +1 408 638 0968
Meeting ID: 917 327 6528

Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 11 rsvps

Join DSA members Eric Brasure and Brendan Hamill to discuss the British film Pride (2014). It’s 1984, British coal miners are on strike, and a group of gays and lesbians in London bring the queer community together to support the miners in their fight. Based on the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. The film is available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Film Discussion: Union Maids

September 24, 2017
· 8 rsvps

 

Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.