Recession not over by a long shot

When George Bush introduced his 2003 tax cut package he said it was a “jobs and growth” plan. Later, his Council of Economic Advisors predicted that the plan would stimulate enough economic growth to create 5.5 million jobs between July 2003 and the end of 2004. But like so many promises of the Bush administration, that didn’t happen. Instead, the “recovery” saw the creation of only 57,000 new jobs – 287,000 short of the administration’s projection. The cumulative shortfall since July 2003 – the amount by which the projected jobs exceeded actual job growth in August and September – is now 672,000.

Since the recession began 30 months ago in March 2001, 3.2 million private sector jobs have disappeared, a 2.8 percent contraction. This is the largest sustained loss of jobs since the Great Depression. Since the official end of the recession in November 2001, there has been a 1.1 million loss in private sector jobs, a 1 percent contraction.

The Bush administration wasted no time in taking credit for the miniscule increase of jobs. But three government reports, two by the Census Bureau in September and the September unemployment report issued Oct. 3, illustrate the negative effect the policies of the Bush administration have had – and are having – on workers and their families.

According to the Census Bureau, the number of people living in poverty increased by 1.7 million in 2002 and now stands at 36.4 million. A second report by the Bureau said the number of people without insurance grew by more than 2 million last year and now exceeds 43 million. And to cap off the bad news, the Labor Department said, despite the fact that the economy created 57,000 new jobs in September, manufacturing industries shed 29,000 jobs.

And there’s more bad news on the unemployment front:

In September, 2.1 million workers – nearly a quarter of the unemployed – had been out of work for 27 weeks or longer, the highest level since 1983. The proportion of long term unemployed has increased by nine percentage points since November 2001.

Close to one million long-term jobless workers are collecting extended unemployment benefits because their regular benefits have expired and they still cannot find work.

Factory employment declined by 29,000, marking the 38th consecutive month of declines in manufacturing employment and bringing the number of workers employed in the nation’s factories to the lowest level since 1958.

The Labor Department says there were more than 13,000 “mass layoffs” – layoffs involving at least 50 employees of the same company – between January and August of this year. The AFL-CIO says mass layoffs are “on track” to exceed one million for the third year in a row.

More than 70,000 temporary jobs were created in September, meaning that employers are filling vacancies with temporary workers instead of adding permanent employees to their payrolls.

The fiscal difficulties of state and local government found their reflection in the job market as education employment declined by 44,000.

Average hourly earnings for production and non-supervisory employees declined by a penny in September.

The Labor Department said 9.8 percent of all workers are jobless, “discouraged’ or forced to work part-time because they cannot find a full-time job.

African Americans are clearly feeling the brunt of what is still a “jobless recovery.” Since the recovery began, the nation’s unemployment rate has increased by 0.5 points: 0.3 points for white workers, 0.2 points for Latino workers, and a whopping 1.4 points for African American workers and 2.2 points for Black men.

Heather Bousley, an economist at the Center for Economic Policy Research, says that despite the fact that home refinancing and the tax cuts put cash in people’s pockets this summer, the rate of job creation was “still anemic.” Bousley says “Even if [the September] report signals that payroll employment has reached its trough, unemployment is likely to rise to the 7 percent range over the next six months.”