Protests nationwide, such as the mass demonstrations in New York dubbed Occupy Wall Street, “are just the tip of the iceberg if politicians do not respond to mass unemployment,” according to one progressive leader, reacting to the latest employment figures out of Washington.
The Labor Department reported Friday that employers added just 58,000 new jobs in September, after subtracting the 45,000 workers who returned to communications giant Verizon after their August strike.
The nation’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.1 percent.
“The jobs numbers continue to send an SOS to Washington to act now on Jobs,” says Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future, a prominent progressive advocacy organization in the nation’s capital. “This economy verges on another downturn. The few jobs being created are not sufficient even to employ the new people coming into workforce, much less to begin to reduce the 25 million in need of full time work. At current rates of growth, mass unemployment, declining wages and spreading poverty will continue. It is time to act.”
Borosage also points to the report of 535,000 jobs lost in state and local governments, which shows how budget cuts are hurting state and local governments. Overall government jobs went down 34,000.
“This is a time for action on jobs, not cuts. The Supercommittee, an offspring of the ridiculous debt ceiling posturing, should wake up,” he adds, referring to the bipartisan congressional panel tasked with finding more than $1 trillion in additional federal deficit reduction. “This is not the time for cuts; it is time to act on jobs. Any report that fails to begin with investment to create jobs should be dead on arrival. Conservatives keep talking about private job creators, but the reality is corporate profits are up, CEO salaries are up, but companies aren’t hiring, despite lavish tax incentives. They don’t lack confidence; they lack customers.”
President Obama has been pushing lawmakers to enact his American Jobs Act, but top Republican congressional leaders refuse to act on the $447 billion package, which includes funds to keep teachers and other public-sector workers on the job.
While trying to put a positive spin on the jobs report, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis also sought to build support for the jobs bill.
“In September, we saw 34,000 local government workers lose their jobs, including 24,000 teachers and other education professionals. The American Jobs Act will stop these losses and give municipalities the support they need to put our educators back in the classroom. Giving our youth a first-class education is critical to our long-term success in the global economy,” she says.
“Independent forecasters estimate that the American Jobs Act will create as many as 1.9 million jobs and increase economic growth by as much as two percentage points, if enacted,” she adds. “That’s more than 150,000 additional jobs a month. It’s crucial that this bill gets an up-or-down vote in both the House and Senate. If leaders in Congress refuse to put the bill to a vote, respected forecasters believe we will see lackluster GDP and job growth in 2012. Inaction is not a responsible option for any lawmaker who is serious about putting this country back to work.”
Scott Nance is the editor and publisher of the news site The Washington Current. He has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.