The Spark

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

Unemployment Up; Economy Down

Jun 8, 2009

The jobless rate hit 9.4% in May. But reading the headlines makes it sound like losing 345,000 jobs in one month is “hopeful.”

It’s true that losing 700,000 jobs a month is worse. But the slowing pace of job loss has not changed the fact that the economy is very weak –and expected to get much weaker when the fall-out from the auto bankruptcy hits. Already, the economy has lost six million jobs since the recession began in December 2007.

This is the highest official unemployment rate in more than 25 years. The rate of unemployment is much higher for black and Hispanic people (14.9% and 12.7% respectively). The highest rate is teenagers looking for summer jobs, who now have to compete with a huge pool of jobless for low-paying jobs. And, of course, these are only the official figures, which severely hide the real extent of joblessness.

Behind the ever hopeful headlines that unemployment was not as bad as it could have been are the harsh economic realities that ordinary people are facing every day. Unemployment checks don’t pay the mortgage and buy food and pay for doctors.

Something even more insidious is behind those headlines – the lie that it’s getting better – just hold on a little longer.

In other words, we are supposed to believe that it is not necessary to organize, protest and fight against all these attacks. The reality is that working people will continue to be forced to pay for this crisis until we do fight back.