Today's new unemployment report contains no news, just decimal point changes. It tells us what we already know, that times are bad. The question is whether our great nation can rise to the challenge.
Unemployment remains unchanged at 9.5 percent, with 14.6 million people out of work. In July, we lost 202,000 jobs in the government sector as the census winds down, and we gained 71,000 jobs in the private sector. African American unemployment grew fractionally worse to 15.6 percent, and teenagers to 26.1 percent.
But the micro details don't change the big picture. People are out of work and out of hope. Mortgages are underwater, savings are in the tank and fewer than half of grown-ups think their kids will be better off.
So what are we going to do about it? Our 200 year old democracy ended slavery and turned the Great Depression into the New Deal. Can we thrive in this century too?
We know what doesn't work. Asset bubbles and trade deficits. Tax cuts and supply side economics. Shopping for cheap stuff made in China.
The House of Representatives new Make it in America initiative makes a conceptual break. It challenges conventional wisdom and brings us back to our industrial, productive past. The knowledge economy is good, as far as it goes -- but a country still needs things. Cars, computers, pencils and iPods. If we don't make those things ourselves, we have to pay someone else for them. Our deficit in goods dwarfs our surplus in services. During the eight years of the Bush administration, America accumulated a surplus of $755 billion in services -- but a $5.9 trillion deficit in goods.
Source: US Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Manufacturing brings new wealth into the country and puts people to work in good, middle-class jobs. Every manufacturing job supports as many as four other jobs, as production workers buy meals, legal services and advertising from other sectors of the economy.