unemployment

Relentlessly High Youth Unemployment is a 'Global Time Bomb'

Last month's job report shows 16 percent of young adults who consistently seek full-time employment are unable to find work. The report shows that a high number of well-educated, trained, and productive youths are among those getting denied the opportunity for a better future. The Guardian reports:

High youth unemployment causes immediate and long-term economic damage. It means young adults take longer to get married, buy homes and begin families. In the long run, it means slower economic growth and lower tax receipts. Countries with prolonged high levels of youth unemployment risk social instability.

Read more here.

U.S. Unemployment Claims at Highest Level in 6 Weeks

A week after reaching a five-year low, Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose by 32,000. This is the highest level in six weeks. Although the job market has improved in the lat six months, unemployment applications continue to fluctuate each week. The Associated Press reports:

"The underlying story in jobless claims continues to be one of gradual improvement," said Julia Coronado, an economist at BNP Paribas. Coronado said the small rise in applications "highlight(s) the need to take volatile weekly readings with a grain of salt."

Read more here.

The Gathering Storm

Climate scientists have warned that climate change will bring about—and already is bringing about—more frequent and fiercer storms. But climate change leads to far more than just destructive weather patterns, with consequences in almost all aspects of our lives. Here are just a few of the many possible effects of our rising global temperature.

Natural disasters will increase.
Climate change increases the risk of natural disasters that disproportionately affect low-income people who lack the resources to prepare, recover, or relocate.

Food will be scarcer and more expensive.
Food prices increase as farmers face new levels of unpredictability in weather patterns. Drought and floods may cause widespread soil infertility and increased plant diseases.

We'll experience more drought—and floods.
Changes in weather patterns lead to both increased drought and flooding, because warmer air can hold more water. Many dry places will become drier, while others will be inundated with rain.

We'll get sicker.
Warmer temperatures broaden the geographic range of insects that carry deadly diseases such as malaria, affecting more people. Warm air holds pollution closer to the ground, increasing respiratory illness. Diseases such as AIDS, which are linked to migration, poverty, and malnutrition, may also increase.

Human trafficking will increase.
With increased migration and job loss from agricultural instability, populations—and especially women—become increasingly vulnerable. As traditional sources of income evaporate, the incentive to exploit others becomes higher.

Some will have to flee their homes.
As land becomes uninhabitable due to agricultural and water instability, flooding, disease, or the effects of natural disasters, more people will be forced to leave their homes to seek opportunity elsewhere.

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Incarceration Nation

THE UNITED STATES has the highest incarceration rate in the world.  In fact, according to the most recent data, the U.S., while having only 4.5 percent of the world’s population, holds 21 percent of the world’s prisoners. The last few years have shown a slight decrease in incarceration rates, but law enforcement policies continue to both target racial minorities and to foster high recidivism rates.  And with the rise of private, for-profit prisons, putting Americans behind bars is becoming an increasingly lucrative business.

  • 2.3 million people are in prison or jail in the U.S.—and one in every 33 adults is behind bars or on parole (2010 figures).
     
  • From 2002 to 2010, the number of inmates held in for-profit prisons increased 37 percent, while the number detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in for-profit prisons increased 206 percent.
     
  • In 2011, 70 percent of people sentenced in federal criminal cases were people of color. More than 34 percent of prosecuted criminal cases were immigration-related, and 29 percent were drug-related. Fraud, the third most common offense, made up less than 10 percent of federal criminal cases.
     
  • Approximately 700,000 ex-offenders are released from prison each year, and more than 40 percent of them are reincarcerated within three years of their release.
     
  • The national unemployment rate is 7.8 percent, but even before the recession, unemployment was roughly 75 percent for ex-offenders in the year after release.

                                                                                                                                                         —Compiled by Dawn Araujo

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The Road to Recovery

ONE OF THE best things about growing up in the 1970s was Schoolhouse Rock! on Saturday morning TV. The day my high school history class began to study the preamble of the U.S. Constitution, we all broke into song: “We the People ... in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare ...”

In the ’70s, Americans still believed those words; the general welfare was important to policymakers across the political spectrum. Today, we have a political discourse where the Republican presidential contender disparages the elderly and the unemployed for collecting benefits for which they’d paid into an insurance fund.

And now policymakers are allowing the looming “fiscal cliff” to threaten the U.S. economic recovery from the recent recession. At the end of this year (or a few months later if Congress kicks the can down the road), Congress and the administration must work out a compromise on spending cuts and revenue increases, or the economy will face deep, mandatory federal spending cuts and across-the-board tax hikes. Such deep spending cuts would devastate many programs that aid those most in need. And, in addition to hurting families, spending cuts at this point in the recovery threaten to derail economic growth and job creation.

In order to make sure fewer people need unemployment insurance benefits, Congress needs to run deficits for the next couple years. Economists are in general agreement that what the economy needs now is more fiscal expansion—that is, an agenda that will make investments that could create jobs and pave the way for long-term economic growth. Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke pointed this out in a recent speech: “Fiscal policy, at both the federal and state and local levels, has become an important headwind for the pace of economic growth.”

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BREAKING: Jobless Rate Falls

The U.S. jobless rate fell to 7.8 percent in September, the lowest since January 2009, President Obama’s first month in office. The Associated Press reports:

“The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent last month, dropping below 8 percent for the first time in nearly four years. The rate declined because more people found work, a trend that could have an impact on undecided voters in the final month before the presidential election.

“The Labor Department said Friday that employers added 114,000 jobs in September. The economy also created 86,000 more jobs in July and August than first estimated. Wages rose in September and more people started looking for work.”

Willing to Work, Where Are the Jobs?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly employment report for August this morning. In the numbers that make the headlines, 96,000 jobs were added and the unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent – 12.5 million people. The numbers behind the headlines are mixed.

Across the major demographic groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.6 percent), adult women (7.3 percent), teenagers (24.6 percent), whites (7.2 percent), blacks (14.1 percent), and Hispanics (10.2 percent) showed little or no change. In the macro picture, 5 million people, 40 percent of those unemployed, are “long-term unemployed” (those jobless for 27 weeks or more.) 8 million people who are considered employed are referred to as “involuntary part-time workers,” meaning they are working part time because their hours have been cut or they are can’t find a full-time job.

But it’s the people who aren’t even counted that give me pause. 2.6 million people are considered “marginally attached to the labor force,” meaning they want work, have looked for a job sometime in the past year, but didn’t look during August. So, they don’t count. Of these, 844,000 are “discouraged workers,” meaning they aren’t looking for work because they believe there are no jobs available for them. They also don’t count.

There is much this country needs and there are people available and willing to do the job. What is lacking is the will to put them to work.  

Poll: No End in Sight for Economic Woes, High Unemployment

The Associated Press reports:

"A majority of economists in the latest Associated Press Economy Survey expect the national unemployment rate to stay above 6 percent — the upper bounds of what's considered healthy — for at least four more years. If the economists are correct, the job market will still be unhealthy seven years after the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009. That would be the longest stretch of high unemployment since the end of World War II.

The election isn't going to be a miracle cure for the unemployment rate — that's for sure," says Sean Snaith, an economics professor at the University of Central Florida. He thinks unemployment, which is 8.2 percent now, won't drop back to 6 percent until after 2016.
 
Economists consider a "normal" level to be between 5 percent and 6 percent.
 
The economists surveyed by the AP foresee an unemployment rate of 8 percent on Election Day. That would be the highest rate any postwar president running for re-election has faced."
 
Learn more here

 

Faithful Alternatives to the Sequester

Today the Interreligious Working Group on Domestic Human Needs (DHN) presented a forum for congressional representatives to talk about a more faithful response to the pending sequester this upcoming January.

Sequestration as we know it was meant to be a last resort – if Congress could not agree on a budget, then programs would be cut, or sequestered, across the board. The problem with the current sequestration agreement is that it does not protect programs that affect the poor, uninsured, and unemployed.

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