made worse by
gridlock in Congress
The outstanding report on inequality in America in The New York Times on Thursday. Click image to enlarge.
A SHOCKING IN-DEPTH report on inequality in America, combined with Friday’s less-less-than-stellar jobs reports paints anything but not a pretty picture of the state of the U.S. economy.
Yes, the unemployment rate dipped slightly, but most of that “improvement” was illusory; it came from more people dropping out of the labor force than getting new jobs.
The Thursday Economic Scene column in The New York Times, Inequality in America: The Data is Sobering, is an excellent analysis by Eduardo Porter.
“The United States remains among the richest countries in the world,” Porter writes. “Yet despite its riches, in many areas the United States looks surprisingly, depressingly backward.”
THIS IS NOT the first time the topic of inequality has come up on In the (K)now.
We talked about it first in “CEO gross income explodes while poverty rises” on July 1.
In that story it was the NYT’s Gretchen Morgenson who wrote that CEO pay rose about 16 percent last year; meanwhile the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median income of the average American rose less than one percent.
It is an issue of vital importance that is not getting addressed by the political classes in the country. They, obviously, are the ones benefiting, and they don’t give a whit about the rest of us.
The monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on the unemployment situation. Click image to enlarge.
Porter notes – and the tables accompanying his story vividly illustrate – that on many measures the U.S. lags most other industrial countries.
“Infant and maternal mortality are the highest among advanced nations. So is the mortality rate of children under the age of 20. “Life expectancy — at birth and at age 60 — is among the lowest.
“Teenage pregnancy rates are not only higher than in other rich nations, they are higher than in Kazakhstan and Burundi.”
This is not a picture of a prosperous nation. It is more as if the U.S. has become a Third World country, where a tiny sliver of the population enjoys obscene wealth while the masses grovel in worsening poverty.
Fast forward to Friday. The stock market shrugged off the dismal jobs report, rising modestly, but investors were looking only at the headline number: the unemployment fell to 7.4 percent.
But take a look a little deeper into the numbers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly report, “In July, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 4.2 million. These individuals accounted for 37.0 percent of the unemployed.”
The longer anyone remains unemployed, numerous studies have shown, the less likely it is that they will ever find a job.
Further, “in July, 2.4 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, little changed from a year earlier … Among the marginally attached, there were 988,000 discouraged workers in July, up by 136,000 from a year earlier.”
So the number of “discouraged” workers is rising.
Keep in mind, these numbers don’t event mention those who long since have given up looking for a job. No count is made of them whatsoever.
Porter, in his column, notes that “Americans are tiring of it. Over half – 52 percent – say the government should redistribute wealth by taxing the rich more, according to a Gallup poll in April.”
So what is our Congress, paralyzed by partisan gridlock, doing about it?
For a clue, lets turn to another story, this one in the Saturday edition of The New York Times:
U.S. Cuts Take Increasing Toll on Job Growth by Jackie Calmes and Catherine Rampell reports that federal spending cuts mandated by the so-called “sequester” are having noticeable effects on the economy.
“The number of federal workers forced to work shorter hours soared this summer — to 199,000 in July, from 55,000 a year earlier — in a sign of the problems that federal budget
policy is causing for the economy.”
The indiscriminate, across-the-board budget cuts imposed by the sequester did not have to happen.
They did because the Republicans in the House of Representatives refuse to even consider a compromise, even when the inaction caused by this results in negative impacts on working men and women.
Do they really hope to win the next election – or any election ever – with intransigence that hurts the very voters they need most? Working men and women?
This is not a way to run a country – unless your goal is to run it into the ground.
FEEDBACK: Contact site admin directly