The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

The Jobless Crisis and Class War

Jun 15, 2020

The Labor Department reported that the U.S. economy added 2.5 million jobs in May and the unemployment rate dropped to “only” 13.3%.

This report led many so-called experts to practically jump for joy, declaring that jobs were coming back and the economic recovery was just around the corner. But clearly the report made little sense. How could the Labor Department claim that millions of jobs were being added and unemployment was dropping during the same month when the jobless rolls leaped by the millions week after week?

That’s why some economists, such as Nobel-prize winner Paul Krugman, wrote that they suspected that the Trump administration had gotten the Labor Department to falsify the numbers in order to make them look better than they really are.

But in reality, the Labor Department did what it always does: make the unemployment rate look much lower by not including the great bulk of the jobless.

So, how much unemployment is there when all the jobless are counted? According to the New York Times, using the government’s own statistics, the real rate is 27%. That is twice as high as the official rate, when all the jobless are counted along with all those forced to work part-time when they really need a full time job.

In other words, today the level of unemployment and underemployment is comparable to the worst years of the 1930s Great Depression.

The capitalist class has already begun to make the working class pay for this crisis with enormous new attacks. It is turning tens of millions of temporary layoffs into permanent job cuts, with millions not even able to get aid for unemployment and the rest living in fear that the unemployment benefits will soon be drastically reduced or run out altogether.

The capitalists are using this growing mass of the unemployed as a threat against those with jobs or just coming back to work, by imposing big cuts to wages and hours, while pushing workers to do much more work.

These attacks follow in a long line of attacks against the working class. One result is an enormous mass of very low-wage workers. Last November, before anyone had heard of the coronavirus, a Brookings Institution study found that 53 million U.S. workers were already living in dire poverty, struggling to survive on an annual income of less than $18,000.

In other words, in this crisis, the capitalist class has tried to increase its profits by heightening the ongoing class war. The only way out of the crisis is for the working class to organize together and use the power that it has at the center of the economy in order to take on that tiny minority of capitalist exploiters.