In growing signs of an economic slowdown, only 54,000 jobs were added in May, down
from a revised figure of 232,000 in April. Thousands of jobs were lost in local government,
manufacturing and retail, with many experts nervous about a possible double dip in the economy. The famous quote by capitalist economists, “A rising tide lifts all boats,” has been
Obama’s response to demands for targeted federal programs to address high unemployment in
the black community. This false policy has left youth and people of color drowning in debt, low wages and joblessness without a boat.
As the Obama administration prioritized serving their big business puppet masters at all costs, Wall Street profits rose to $426 billion dollars in the last quarter of 2010 alone, (U.S. Department of Commerce). Meanwhile, there was an extension of imperial war abroad, spending trillions of dollars on destruction.
An Army of the Unemployed
There are still over 13.7 million U.S. workers who can’t find jobs. But when you add part-time workers who want full-time jobs and the marginally employed, the total rises to 30.6 million,
(Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Hardest hit are blacks, with the percentage of black adult men with a job falling below 60% for the first time, (U.S. Department of Labor). The overall employment rate for black men is the lowest since 1984. In April, the unemployment rate for black men was 16.1%, for Latinos 11.8% and for whites 8%. These numbers are even higher when you take into account those formerly incarcerated, those underemployed and undocumented immigrant workers.
Young workers have always been hit the hardest with bouts of unemployment, even in times of economic growth and stability. According to the congressional Joint Economic Committee’s (JEC) report, one in five workers between the ages of 16 and 24 was unemployed in April. The report continues to state: “The youth unemployment rate of 19.6% is the highest for the age group since the government began tracking the data in 1947.” In the U.S. 16-24 year-olds make up 13% of the labor force, but they represent 26% of the unemployed, according to the JEC report.
A Global Crisis
The recent revolutionary surge in the Middle East and North Africa was spurred on by the economic and social devastation youth and workers faced daily under the dictatorial regimes’ and global capitalism’s stranglehold on the rich natural resources in the region. The International Labor Organization’s 2010 report, “Global Employment Trends for Youth,” says of the 620 million economically active youth ages 15-24, 81 million worldwide were unemployed at the end of 2009. The report estimates that 152 million young people in the world worked but remained in severe poverty. It is estimated that these young people were surviving on less than $1.25 per day.
This Crisis Demands a Revolutionary Response
We are faced with high unemployment, poverty and escalating attacks on union rights and essential social services in every city and state. This situation requires building a new, militant and vibrant movement that calls upon working people and the unemployed to confront the system of corporate domination and its two parties, the Democrats and the Republicans.
We need labor unions and community organizations to step up and organize mass demonstrations for living-wage jobs programs to end unemployment. We can emulate examples provided by the international mass movements.
In order to permanently uproot the seeds of poverty, unemployment, war and institutional racism, we need a system change. As socialist and labor leader Eugene V. Debs stated: “Socialism also means a coming phase of civilization, next in order from the present one, in which collective people will own and operate the sources and means of wealth production, in which all will have equal right to work and all cooperate together in producing wealth and all enjoy all the fruit of their collective labor.”