The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its most recent jobs report July 5, citing 224,000 “new jobs” added, with “notable” gains in professional and business services, transportation and warehousing, and health care. (tinyurl.com/yyy3bk5x)
The New York Times touted the report as “good news for workers,” and the Boston Herald celebrated: “Trump economy continues to roll.” But those newspapers are mouthpieces for different currents of the capitalist owning class. Ironically, the BLS has recently stopped reporting printing production jobs, such as those in newspapers. (tinyurl.com/y66nuowx)
Other research — from the Urban Institute, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and elsewhere — reveals the truly dire situation of the working class in the U.S., which capitalism is pushing deeper and deeper into economic crisis.
Despite an official economic expansion across the U.S. that surpassed the 1990s boom, 40 percent of U.S. working-class residents say they find it difficult to pay their bills. (tinyurl.com/yxppvsfd)
Their costs for health care, education and housing are increasing, while their wages look to take a turn for the worst. Their debts have been increasing. Renting homes is now a more affordable option than owning a house — not only in urban areas.
Some, who make up this 40 percent, report barely being able to scrape by. When a tragedy hits, like the death of a loved one, daily life becomes unaffordable, and the working poor fall behind on their bills.
The present economic expansion in the U.S. has been weaker than previous ones, with its “benefits” distributed far more unevenly. Roughly half of gross domestic product growth from 2009 to 2015 went to the top 1 percent of households. (Emmanuel Saez, “Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States”)
The Great Recession of 2008 is still impacting people. One reason many cannot pay their bills now is because they have never been able to recover from that economic crisis. Families of color and households that earn less than $60,000 annually are the groups least likely to have recovered.
Furthermore, the BLS report shows that almost 6 million workers have either quit searching for a job, are unable to find one or cannot secure full-time work.
The unemployment rate, at about 3.6 percent, does not include people who have searched extensively for work and failed to find a job, or those who have quit searching altogether due to various factors. And the government’s rates exclude those who do not receive unemployment insurance but do include military enlistees.
The current “low” unemployment rate is not a true portrait of the crisis in the working class. For instance, unemployment rates for Black people are nearly double the rates for white people. In 2018, it was reported that the unemployment rate for disabled workers was more than twice that of nondisabled workers.
Workers who are part of the LGBTQ2S+ community do not have protection from discrimination in workplaces across 28 states. These workers, especially trans and gender-nonconforming people, are more likely to be unemployed than straight and/or cisgender people.
The number of working-class people living paycheck to paycheck, the number of workers who can’t find full-time work or any job at all, the super-high unemployment rates in communities of color — all expose the true state of working people in the U.S. far more reliably that the recent BLS report.