Jobs and the U.S. Economy: Understanding the February 2013 Unemployment Report

So, what’s not to like about the US economy?  The stock market is making all time (nominal) highs, corporate profits at record levels, housing prices rising – well, maybe there’s still the question of jobs: the lack thereof. 

Today’s BLS jobs report is certainly better than many of those in the past year: 236,000 jobs created compared to the 2011 – 2012 averages, both of which were in the 150 - 155,000/month range. That level of job creation is sufficient to absorb new entrants plus 35 – 40,000 unemployed.  The level of job creation in February would provide about 120,000 jobs above the level of new labor market entrants.  However, the downward revision of the new jobs numbers for January 2013 leaves 2013 YTD with only 60,000/month job creation above the level necessary to provide jobs for new labor force entrants. 

Let’s put these numbers in context: there remain over 12 million officially unemployed and another almost 7 million people classified as “not in the labor force” but stating that they want a job.  Even at the rate of job creation for Feb 2013, it would take 158 months – 13 years – to provide jobs for all who seek them.  The experience of past recessions suggests that the actual number of jobs needed is actually greater than 19 million; when/if job creation picks up after a recession, many people who have given up looking for work return to seeking jobs. 

Another way of putting these numbers in context is to remember that there are 2.5 million fewer people employed today than in Dec 2007, the month that marks the beginning of the Great Recession.  Further, since that date, the same time the labor force has grown by almost 2 million and those “not in the labor force” have grown by 12 million.  Or you can just remember that if these 19 million people were standing shoulder to shoulder, they would stretch from Bangor Maine to Los Angele and back – and there would still be 2 million people not in that line.

When we break down the unemployed by gender, ethnicity and race, we find the long term patterns of unequal labor market access continuing.  While the Great Recession saw heavier job losses among males than females, over the past year males have accounted for 75% of total employment growth.  Comparing unemployment by race and ethnicity, the unemployment rate for African Americans is 13.8% and for Hispanics 9.6% vs. an overall unemployment rate of 7.7% and 6.8% for white workers. 

These are the figures.  But we must always remember that, behind the dry numbers, are stories of dreams destroyed, of families under stress that often exceeds the breaking point, of foreclosed homes because there is no money for the mortgages, and of lost potential for us all, both the unemployed and the employed.

It is, therefore fitting that Rep. John Conyers has announced plans to reintroduce his “21st Century Full Employment and Training Act” and that Rep. Ellison plans to reintroduce his bill that levies a small tax on the trading of financial assets with the revenues targeted to job creation.  DSA has endorsed both of these initiatives (see the national web site for literature on these proposals) and we remain convinced that recovery from the financial crisis and the subsequent economic stagnation requires much, much more than too many of our legislators in Washington have even conceived, much less done.  We must constantly push our political and economic elite to move off the dead end of deficits and instead recognize the needs of our people for full time, living wage employment.

Bill Barclay is on the steering committee of Chicago DSA, the DSA National Member Organizer, and with the Chicago Political Economy Group.

DSA Immigration Rights Rapid Response: #AbolishICE

June 21, 2018

Thursday, June 21st at 8:30pm ET/7:30pm CT/6:30pm MT/5:30pm PT

Sign up here for a link to the call RSVP.

The Trump administration’s policy of separating families seeking asylum is only the latest in a escalation of anti-immigrant policies. We need to #AbolishICE now. Join us for an emergency call with the national DSA Immigrant Rights committee and our allies to discuss our strategy.

If you cannot make this call, please sign up here for a call recording and more organizing resources.

New Member Call, June 24

June 24, 2018

9pm ET/8 CT/7 MT/6 PT

Click to RSVP

You've joined DSA - Great! Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision. And, most importantly, how you can become involved.

Questions or Comments? Contact: 

Sam M


Click to RSVP

**Note: this page originally had the wrong date listed. The Correct date is Sunday the 24th**

M4A Chapter Activist Training Call: How to Pass a Medicare for All City Council Resolution

June 30, 2018

Saturday June 30th at 4pm ET/3pm CT/2pm MT/1pm PST

Click Here to RSVP

In March, Philadelphia DSA members showed up in droves with healthcare workers, community members, and elected leaders to pass a Philadelphia city-wide resolution supporting the Medicare for All Act of 2017 and affirming universal access to healthcare as a human right. This victory showed that in a city where the poverty rate is over 26%, city council leaders learned where to stand when it comes to universal healthcare. To move a national campaign to win Medicare for All, we need to build support from a broad range of cities and municipalities across the country. With some research, planning, and lobbying, you could work with city council members to pass a resolution of support in your city too!

Click Here to RSVP