January 30, 2014
In his State of the Union message, President Obama suggested apprenticeships, tax reductions on new investments, and building new infrastructure as ways to increase jobs and reduce inequality in America.
But he said virtually nothing about what is probably the single biggest cause of lost jobs and stagnating earnings for all but the richest of America's citizens: the U.S. current account deficit, which includes the trade deficit.
Although the Federal Reserve Bank says we're in the midst of a recovery, and the official unemployment rate has fallen below 7%, the economy is far from being out of the woods. That official rate — technically known as U-3 — doesn't begin to tell the real story. It is only one of six unemployment measures kept by the U.S. government and counts all those who say they are unemployed and looking for work. But it does not include those discouraged unemployed workers who have given up looking for a job or those who would like to work full time but are only able to find part-time work. The rate that includes all those people — U-6 — is about 13%. Granted, that is below the 17% of 2010, but it is still far above the 8% of 2007, as we navigate what is being called a recovery — albeit an abnormally slow one.
Perhaps even more disturbing is the dramatic increase in the gap between the incomes of the wealthiest 5% of Americans and the rest. Virtually all of the benefit of the present "recovery" is going to those in the top income brackets. As far as the rest are concerned, it's still the Great Recession.
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