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Unemployment, cutbacks deepen

Fight needed for jobs, housing, services

Published Jan 13, 2010 3:23 PM

The latest job reports for December should convince workers that all the talk about economic recovery coming from the media pundits is just hot air. The only recovery is the bankers’ bonuses and the corporations’ profits. And the time to fight back against layoffs, foreclosures and cutbacks is now.

In December 85,000 more jobs were lost, bringing the total in the last two years to 8 million. The total official unemployment rate remained at 10 percent, but that is only because 661,000 workers stopped looking for jobs and were not counted. If they had been counted, unemployment would have jumped to 10.4 percent.

A number which gives a truer picture of the dire situation for the workers is the so-called official “underemployment” figure. This includes the 15.3 million workers who have looked for a job in the last four weeks and are officially out of a job; the 2.5 million workers who are “marginally attached” to the work force; and 9.2 million workers who are forced to work part-time even though they need a full-time job.

Together these figures add up to 27 million workers — or almost one in five workers who are officially unemployed or underemployed!

The racism in capitalist society shows up dramatically in the underemployment statistics. One in four African-American and Latino/a workers is underemployed. White underemployment is 14.6 percent, but the figure for African Americans is 25.1 percent and for Latino/a workers 24.3 percent.

As far as young workers are concerned, they are suffering greatly from this crisis. One in four workers between the ages of 16 and 24 is without any job — 25.7 percent. Students and youth have no future in this latest phase of capitalist economic crisis. Their only path can be one of rebellion and struggle for education and jobs.

In fact, things are even worse than these numbers indicate. The work force lost a net total of 810,000 workers because of dropouts in the last two years. But it should have increased by 2.8 million since the downturn started in December 2007 because of population growth and related factors. So there are 3.6 million “missing”workers who either dropped out or came of working age and never entered the labor force because there were no prospects of getting a job.

Higher profits

with fewer workers

So much for the talk of recovery. During the entire crisis the bosses have been laying off workers and making those who remain work harder and/or work fewer hours or longer hours. They have sent jobs abroad, instituted technological speed-ups, and in general found ways to keep profits up by shedding workers and/or intensifying their exploitation.

The trend of destroying permanent jobs and putting temporary jobs in their place — a trend that has been in force for several decades — has intensified during the crisis. A major study by Business Week magazine (Jan. 18), a mouthpiece of the bosses, practically gloats that 26 percent of the work force is now in the temporary category. The capitalists can hire workers, with no health care, no pension, no vacation, no protection whatsoever, and then discard them at a moment’s notice.

This trend fits in with shrinking the workforce in order to bolster profits. How is this possible? Corporations have downsized and squeezed more labor out of fewer workers. That is the very source of their increased profits.

For example, Ford Motor Co has laid off 53,000 workers and shut 15 plants since 2006. Yet Ford made $1 billion in profit in the third quarter of 2009. Microsoft laid off 5,000 workers and made $14.6 billion in profit in 2009. IBM’s profits grew 18 percent last year to $12.3 billion, but the company laid off 10,000 workers. Aetna made $1.38 billion and laid off 1,240 workers. Verizon, Monsanto, Phillip Morris, Wal-Mart and other giants all had layoffs and boosted profit. (epi.org)

A deep and growing crisis

Communities are suffering from this crisis as the bankers and bosses try to get the people to foot the bill for the multi-trillion-dollar bail out of the banks and the trillion-dollar-plus cost of the Afghanistan war, the campaign against Pakistan, the continued occupation of Iraq, and the general expansion of U.S. military aggression into Yemen and Somalia.

While Washington has trillions to bail out the banks and the auto and insurance giants and $700 billion for the 2009 military budget, there is hardly any money for the state governments that are cutting back services for the workers and the poor with a meat axe.

The economic crisis has slashed state revenues. So 43 states plus the District of Columbia have carried out severe budget cuts, and more are on the way. According to a report by the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities, 28 states are cutting health care services; 24 states are cutting services to the elderly and disabled; 36 states are cutting aid to higher education and much more.

Over 132,000 state and local government workers have been laid off, and hundreds of thousands more jobs are on the chopping block. The crisis has left the states with projected total shortfalls of $350 billion for the years 2010 and 2011.

One thing that is not discussed is that all the states and municipalities owe money to the banks. Most state and local budgets are heavily burdened with these payments. The banks they owe the money to are primarily the big banks that have gotten the bailouts.

But there is not one word about suspending the payment of tens of billions of dollars to these parasites who do nothing but sit around and collect money, while the masses of people lose their homes, their education, their health care and the very means of life. The laws of capitalist “free enterprise” and the profit system dictate that profits are sacred and the needs of the people come last.

The situation in this country has become so bad for the people that 6 million people in the U.S. have no income at all but live on food stamps. They get no pensions, no welfare, no unemployment insurance, no disability pay, no other source of income — in the richest country in the world. (New York Times, Jan. 3) Furthermore, one in eight people in the U.S. is poor enough to get food stamps.

To make matters worse, the foreclosure crisis is going to deepen. In addition to the millions who have already lost their homes, it is forecast that the bankers will force another 7 million homeowners into foreclosure in the next several years.

In the midst of this crisis, there is a growing silent attack upon undocumented workers as the Obama administration has, on the one hand, reduced the number of raids, but, on the other, has increased the prosecutions and deportations of immigrants.

Class struggle must sharpen

In every sphere, whether it’s jobs, food, housing, health care, education, heating or just basic living, the workers, the communities, the youth and students are under attack. The attack is by one class — the rich, the property-owning, profit-gouging capitalist class.

The attack is upon the working class — employed, unemployed, documented and undocumented of all races and nationalities, women, men, lesbian, gay, bi and trans, old and young.

The working class has no choice but to unite and answer back. The labor movement and the communities, the youth and students must unite into an organized movement to stop the bosses from putting the crisis of their profit system on our backs.

The Jobs March at the G-20 in Pittsburgh last September was a beginning. The marches for jobs on Wall Street in New York City and in Detroit over the Martin Luther King Day holiday will be another step. The March 4 day of national student protest could become a spark that sets off wider struggles against the crisis. And this May Day is another great opportunity for a united effort to push the struggle further.

The rich will not stop taking until we stop them. That is the lesson of every workers’ struggle, of every fight for the rights of the masses of people — from the struggle to organize the mass unions in the 1930s to struggles for civil rights and against racism, national oppression and sexual oppression in the 1960s. The time is now.