Every Thursday morning I look forward to the federal government’s newest report on unemployment claims for the preceding period. It’s like watching a tennis game – the numbers go back and forth and rarely make any giant smash in one direction or the other. The sad part is, the report never reflects any real improvement in the jobless situation in which millions find themselves immersed and, in fact, the report itself is seriously flawed.
This morning the Labor Department announced that initial jobless claims jumped to 386,000 last week, Reuters reported. That’s not just 386,000 people who are unemployed – that’s 386,000 ‘new’ people who are now qualified to receive unemployment benefits. The report doesn’t reflect the millions who are still drawing benefits from previous weeks, and it certainly doesn’t count the millions more who have given up searching for a job after their benefits were exhausted.
I don’t entirely understand how someone can ‘give up’ searching for a job. I suppose many of them have turned to self-employment opportunities, but honestly, everyone has to have an income. When unemployment benefits are exhausted, most families probably qualify for some sort of public assistance, including food aid. Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that nearly 15% of the population was receiving some sort of food stamp assistance – that’s 44 million people that cost taxpayers $72 billion last year.
In just the past year, over two million more people are receiving food assistance, adding another $8 billion to the program’s cost. That’s not economic progress by any stretch of the imagination. Associated Press said congressional Republicans aim to cut the program for deficit savings, which is entirely understandable from a fiscal point of view. But a better solution would be to put people back to work so they no longer have to depend on public assistance and unemployment benefits to scratch by. And that is not accomplished by another disastrous stimulus program.
This year’s election is going to be all about jobs and the economy. Mitt Romney has practical experience in creating jobs and that’s exactly what this nation needs to remedy our present situation. As hard as President Barack Obama has tried, his solutions have not improved the situation. He claims to have lessened the depth of the recession – a measurement that is unscientific and unsupportable – but it hasn’t rectified the problem. More of this same approach isn’t going to work in the future. The American economy needs a bold, new vision and that’s not going to come from the Oval Office incumbent.
Earlier this month, Obama said the infrastructure jobs would lower the unemployment rate to six percent, but it requires more federal money to be poured into a myriad of projects around the country. The problem is: this is no more federal money. Private sector stimulus ideas are needed. Tax credits, enterprise zones, community redevelopment agreements, export opportunities and lower fuel prices.
The American employment problem isn’t solved in a number released every Thursday. So long as there is a number to be reported, people are suffering. Let’s fix the economy…and let’s do it now.