Monday, March 08, 2004

The Real Economy

Of course the Secretary of Commerce (see below) claimed that everything is just ducky with the economy. Bob Herbert tells the truth:

Among those having a particularly hard time finding work, according to the report, are job seekers with college degrees and people 45 and older.

"The new data," said Sylvia Allegretto, one of the authors of the report, "show us an economy that is just not generating enough high-quality jobs to get highly educated and highly experienced workers back to work."

The nation is in an employment crisis and the end is not in sight. The Bush administration has no plan, other than a continued ludicrous reliance on additional tax cuts. The White House continued to say on Friday that making the president's tax cuts permanent would be an important step toward solving the employment problem.

What is happening in some sectors of the black community is catastrophic. The Community Service Society studied employment conditions among black men in New York City. Using the employment-population ratio, which is the proportion of the working-age population with a job, it found — incredibly — that nearly one of every two black men between the ages of 16 and 64 was not working last year.

In the current environment, even apparent good news can have its troubling aspects. An article in The Wall Street Journal a couple weeks ago indicated that Latino workers have been doing well, taking a "disproportionate share" of new jobs, especially in the construction and service sectors, since the economy began its recovery.

The article referred to a demand for young, male Latino workers.

It then went on to say: "Typical of them is Jorge Alberto, a 22-year-old Guatemalan, who doesn't speak English, didn't complete high school and had never held a job — until he slipped across the border into California from Mexico last year. In Los Angeles, `I found a job almost immediately,' he says, pushing a cart through the muddy lot where he and five other Hispanic men are laying the foundation for a house."

Herbert also points out that unemployment among 16-19 year olds is at an all time high. The reason is pretty obvious to me: why would a restaurant or grocery want to hire a 16-19 year old American who expects to make seven or eight bucks an hour when they can hire a Mexican who will work under the table for minimum wage and no benefits and as many hours as the employer wants?

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