Dec 1, 2008
More than ten million people out of work in October, 6.5% of the active work force – that is the official word from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Bad enough – but ten million is only a small part of the story. When the government compiles unemployment statistics, it excludes a great many people from its monthly announcement – but it keeps figures on them anyway. When it adds them back, it gets a grand total of 22.6 million people who were either unemployed or working many fewer hours than the full time job they want.
This comes to more than one out of every seven workers deprived of work, fully or partly, in October. Appalling!
It certainly didn't get any better in November, as announcement followed announcement: 54,000 jobs to be cut at CitiGroup; 24,000 at Hewlett-Packard; 6,000 at Sun Microsystems; 5,000 white collar workers at Chrysler; 2,500 at ArcelorMittal Steel, and nearly as many at U.S. Steel and AK Steel; 3,000 at Yahoo; several thousands at the many semiconductor-equipment companies; hundreds of thousands put at risk in auto.
And it won't get better over the next period. Economic forecasters at the University of Michigan predict – in what they call an "optimistic forecast" – that another 2.4 million people will lose jobs during the next 18 months.
We are in the midst of what economists call a "feedback loop"" that is, the vicious job cutting circle. Construction workers, laid off because of the impact of the mortgage crisis, stopped buying cars and refrigerators and furniture. That led to layoffs for auto workers and appliance workers and furniture workers, along with workers in all those industries producing their raw materials – steel, plastics, glass, rubber, chemicals, fabrics. And all those laid-off workers stopped buying anything but the bare necessities, which spreads layoffs to other industries, including to office workers who handle records for all this production. And all these layoffs mean fewer taxes paid to cities and states, which are right now announcing layoffs for municipal and state workers – who can't buy houses or cars or appliances.... looping back to bring still more layoffs.
It's not by their own choice that 22.6 million people found themselves either unemployed or underemployed. Job cuts are capitalism's choice – capitalism's response to a falling rate of profit – even when this choice leads to disaster for the whole society.
Friendly politicians are filled with advice to workers caught up in capitalism's deadly spiral: "Be patient," they say, "things will get better – but only after they get worse!"
Well, workers have seen enough of "worse" – why wait for more of it?
Put a moratorium on layoffs!
Put a moratorium on job cuts!
The Democrats and Republicans rushed to hand over trillions of dollars to the wealthy class that caused the crisis.
A political party, ready to defend the interests of the vast majority of the population, would rush even faster to forbid all job cuts, to forbid all layoffs. It would require that every bank – and every company funded by those banks – put people back to work before they got a cent from the government.
Put a moratorium on job cuts and layoffs " anything less means catastrophe for working people.