American employers eliminated 4.2 million jobs in 2009 and sent unemployment soaring into double digits for the first time in more than a quarter century.
Since the fall of last year, the official jobless rate has been over ten percent, while the unofficial rate (taking in the severely underemployed and those who have given up looking) has been over 17 percent.
And, despite the ridiculous “green-shoots” speculation of the Obama administration and overblown “recovery” fantasies of the financial media that has blown every major economic story of recent years, the situation is getting worse.
Analysts had predicted that December layoffs would number around 8,000.
Unemployment held steady at 10 percent – not because the job market is stabilizing but because tens of thousands of Americans gave up looking for work and are no longer counted among the unemployed.
The sharp drop in the labor force is not merely an indicator of the real unemployment rate. It is a confirmation of the mounting hopelessness in vast stretches of the United States – particularly in California, southern New England and the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes States, where communities are being devastated by a federal auto-industry “bailout” that continues to encourage carmakers to shutter factories in U.S. cities and to relocate production to Mexico and China.
The new unemployment numbers are devastating, and they should send up red flares in Washington, a city where officials have so far has been absurdly neglectful of the most serious social, economic and political crisis facing the country.
The Obama administration and Democratic leaders in Congress are pouring a great deal of energy into trying to salvage something acceptable from the health-care reform debacle and, in the aftermath of the Christmas Day flight scare, they are increasingly focused on “war-on-terror” issues. (They may even be starting to recognize the extent to which the White House bungled things by spending a fall focused on Afghanistan when potential threats were elsewhere.)
There is no question that health-care policy and homeland security are serious matters.
But the most serious matter facing this White House and this Congress is mounting unemployment. As Senator Russ Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat who has been struggling to turn Washington’s attention toward jobs issues for much of the past year said Friday: “Today’s jobs report underscores the need for Congress and the Obama administration to make jobs an immediate priority. The report shows that employment continues to lag so swift action is needed.”