JOBLESS: 7.65 MILLION OR 20 MILLION?

While the U.S. government announced a 17,000 job-loss for January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also said the unemployment rate has actually declined to 4.9% based on 7.65 million jobless. What fraud! The government’s definition of an unemployed worker is one who has looked for a job in the last four weeks. This, of course, does not include:

• 4.8 million working part-time who want full-time jobs;

• 5.0 million who haven’t sought employment in the last four weeks or longer, including “discouraged” workers, those who’ve stopped looking for non-existent jobs (above figures from NY Times, 2/2/08);

• 1.6 million in prison (of the total 2.4 million) for non-violent crimes, mostly on drug possession charges — who are not imprisoned in rehabilitation-oriented Western Europe — and being among the least skilled would probably add to the jobless figures.

Add those to the government unemployment figure and the total becomes 19 million, or approximately 2½ times the reported 7.65 million! This still does not include unemployed youth who seek “jobs” as part of the 1.4 million in the military, nor several million still on welfare who would want to work if child-care were available. (Welfare recipients forced into Workfare in New York City replaced 20,000 unionized workers on the municipal workforce, according to a March 2001 report from the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies.)

So the number of U.S. workers denied full-time civilian jobs has certainly passed 20 million. Because of racist discrimination, the jobless percentage for black workers (9.2%) is more than double that of whites (4.4%). But even those figures are under-estimates since that 9.2% figure excludes the greater percentage of black workers trapped into prison and onto welfare.

There never has been full employment under capitalism, nor can there be. As bosses compete against each other for maximum profits, especially globally, their first cost-cutting measure is laying off workers, constantly searching for the lowest wage-rates. Now, especially during economic crisis, mass layoffs are the order of the day, as the bosses try to shift the burden of that crisis onto the backs of the working class.

But basing profits on non-productive sources only worsens the crisis. Schemes like subprime mortgage fiascos and hedge funds do not produce new value; only manufacturing workers can do that, and U.S. manufacturing is constantly declining. The trillions in credit and trade debts, and the borrowing to pay the $1.7 trillion cost of their imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, will deepen the economic crisis still further.

So no matter who becomes the next President, Hillary, Obama or McCain, the bosses will need more of a fascist police state, to make workers pay even more for their wars and crisis and to try to stop any working-class rebellions against this squeeze on their jobs and wages. And this is why workers need a system that is free of all bosses and profits and the stealing of the value we workers produce — a system in which all this value is shared according to need — and need a party, PLP, which fights for that system: communism.J

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