You'd think the American public would be demanding government action: a new WPA for the long-term unemployed, a second stimulus to make up for the shortfall in purchasing power, stronger safety nets. But we're not hearing much clamor for any of this. One reason is that those who remain unemployed have little or no political clout.
Who are they?
Women who lost their jobs are having a harder time getting back to work than men. Men took a bigger hit during the recession because industries that employ lots of men — manufacturing, transportation and construction — got whacked early in the downturn. Construction is still in the doldrums, but manufacturing and transportation have picked up, so men are starting to be rehired.
Women, on the other hand, don't often work construction. Most are found in service industries, and they haven't been invited back yet.
And it's not just women sitting on the sidelines: African Americans, the young, and those unemployed for longer than six months are also stuck there.
That apparently doesn't bother Congress and the White House. If there is even a minimal uptick in the employment figures, especially among white males, it's as if the overall picture has suddenly turned rosy. Industries with overseas operations are making money "over there", so they're happy. What's the problem?
The problem is that the bulk of Americans are struggling because no one in Washington is willing to do that which would actually improve the picture. Given the current obsession with deficit reduction and debt ceilings, that's not likely to change unless those who have been locked out somehow get the message out.
We're in campaign mode right now. Maybe now's the time to start hollering.
Go read Reich's column for the ammunition you'll need.