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Jobs Continue to Vanish While the Media Applauds "Recovery"

By       Message shamus cooke     Permalink
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opednews.com Headlined to H3 2/9/10


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At first glance it appeared there was a typo in the headlines. The national media reported that, in January, another 20,000 more jobs were lost. Somehow, the unemployment rate dropped, from 10 percent to 9.7 percent. Nobody thought this paradox was worth explaining; instead, the media's attitude was "more good news" about the economy.

But there was other evidence of an obliterated job market hiding behind the cheerful headlines. After revising the employment numbers in 2009, The New York Times reported, ""the economy lost 150,000 jobs in December, far more than the 85,000 initially reported." Overall in 2009, the adjusted numbers showed an additional ""1.36 million fewer jobs"" (February 5, 2010).

And yet the unemployment rate dropped. One reason this happened is that the U.S. government uses a separate, more unreliable survey to calculate the unemployment rate, in contrast to the survey used to calculate job losses. There are other more important ways the government obscures the unemployment numbers: if you are no longer receiving unemployment benefits you're not counted as unemployed; if you've given up looking for a job, you're not counted either. You are counted, however, if you are working only 15 hours a week, or if you're a temporary worker.

In this way the government cooks the books to bring fake optimism to the masses. The mainstream media reports these fraudulent numbers without asking questions, so that the Democrats can continue doing absolutely nothing towards creating jobs.

But there is a method to the madness. Mass unemployment brings incredible pressure on workers' wages and benefits. The mere threat of being unemployed puts unorganized workers in a precarious position when they're told to work for less.

The organized labor movement is suffering from the recession too. In 2009 the number of workers belonging to unions fell by 771,000. Since union workers have higher standards of living, this number implies a further drop in wages and benefits overall.

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Shamus Cooke is a social service worker and activist living in Portland Oregon.

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