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What recovery? Time to fight

Published Aug 11, 2010 5:36 PM

The latest jobs report and economic growth numbers confirm that no recovery is in store for the working class. On the contrary, mass unemployment is likely to get worse, not better. The short-lived “jobless recovery” is on the decline after less than a year, following a downturn lasting 19 months.

Working-class leaders must face this truth and fashion a way to fight back. There is no other course to relieve the plague of unemployment and the growing suffering it causes.

In July, the latest month of the so-called “recovery,” official government numbers showed a 131,000 net loss of jobs. The private sector, according to the government, created 91,000 jobs. But that was overwhelmed by the loss of 202,000 government jobs at the federal, state and local level.

Overall official unemployment is 9.5 percent. Things are worse for oppressed workers. Black and Latino/a joblessness is at 15.6 percent and 12.1 percent, respectively.

Official total unemployment, including forced part-time work and workers who have stopped looking for jobs, is 16.5 percent, or 25.8 million. This is a minimum figure. Bear in mind that it takes somewhere between 150,000 to 200,000 jobs just to keep unemployment from growing!

Furthermore, the economic trend is down. The economy increased by only 2.1 percent in the recent quarter. This is a decline from its peak at the end of 2009, which was 5.5 percent. Economic growth has gone down steadily since then. Capitalism is an unstable system. It must either expand or contract. The meager expansionary phase is on track to come to an end.

The $787 billion stimulus package, the tens of billions handed to the auto industry, the cash for clunkers program, the special tax write-offs for home buyers, to say nothing of the trillions of dollars handed to the banks, have all failed to jump-start U.S. capitalism. And the bosses are on a hiring strike. They are sitting on $1.8 trillion in cash. They have grabbed $1.2 trillion in profits based on ruthlessly cutting the workforce.

As Workers World wrote June 17: “This is an unorthodox recovery, stimulated by capitalist government spending, which amounts to the printing of money. But even at this early stage of the recovery, it is already showing signs of weakness and instability. If the enormous already-existing problems of unemployment and budget cutbacks were not enough to set off alarm bells in the heads of leaders of the working class, these latest economic numbers should.”

This is even truer today.

The workers cannot afford to be in denial. There is an urgent need for mass mobilization to open struggles for jobs, to end the layoffs, for the reopening of closed facilities and, above all, for a government Works Progress Administration-style program to provide jobs, at living wages with benefits, to the tens of millions who are out of work or underemployed.

Waiting for the bosses to hire or giving them tax breaks in the hope they will hire is a dead end. The only thing that will get the attention of the bosses and bankers and their government in Washington  is to combat racism and mobilize for united action, for struggle, to shake up the system and not let business go on as usual until the workers are put back to work, people are put back in their homes, and services are restored.

The time for that struggle is now.