Last week, news outlets were buzzing with happy talk about a dip in the unemployment rate in November. The problem is, anyone living in the real world knows that good jobs — i.e., jobs that pay well, or at least allow one to live above the poverty line — continue to disappear, and that reports emphasizing slight upticks in employment are irresponsible and misleading.
If the people who work for the corporate media weren’t cowardly, crooked, or just plain lazy, they would have reported the sobering facts presented yesterday in a Reader Supported News piece by economist Robert Reich:
Most of the new jobs being created are in the lower-wage sectors of the economy – hospital orderlies and nursing aides, secretaries and temporary workers, retail and restaurant. Meanwhile, millions of Americans remain working only because they’ve agreed to cuts in wages and benefits. Others are settling for jobs that pay less than the jobs they’ve lost. Entry-level manufacturing jobs are paying half what entry-level manufacturing jobs paid six years ago.
Other people are falling out of the middle class because they’ve lost their jobs, and many have also lost their homes. Almost one in three families with a mortgage is now underwater, holding their breath against imminent foreclosure.
The percent of Americans in poverty is its highest in two decades, and more of us are impoverished than at any time in the last fifty years. A recent analysis of federal data by the New York Times showed the number of children receiving subsidized lunches rose to 21 million in the last school year, up from 18 million in 2006-2007. Nearly a dozen states experienced increases of 25 percent or more. Under federal rules, children from families with incomes up to 130 percent of the poverty line, $29,055 for a family of four, are eligible.
This morning on NPR, some news-reading moron announced that the number of available jobs in this country has “surged to a three-year high.” None of Reich’s hard facts were mentioned on NPR, and you won’t see them in daily newspapers, not unless they’re buried in an “analysis” piece.
NPR did note in a website story that the dip is not such good news if you factor in the 315,000 people who stopped looking for work; that the new jobs figures were “seasonally adjusted,” meaning they include many retail jobs that last only through the holidays; and that the economy is a long way from regaining the many millions of jobs lost since the so-called recession began. But how many people read NPR’s website, as opposed to hearing its news reports on the radio?
We’re in the middle of a disaster as big as the Great Depression, but the corporate media, in the spirit of Herbert Hoover, run stories implying that prosperity is just around the corner.