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Unemployment at a Four-Year High

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Posted on Aug 1, 2008
Elaine Chao

Oddly enough, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, who has overseen the past seven months of unemployment increases, still has her job.

A government report released Friday signals worsening economic tides as the U.S. tries to navigate through its highest level of unemployment in four years. The seven-month-long trend of net job losses is likely to persist, with few signs of a turnaround on the horizon.


Employers cut jobs in July for the seventh straight month, while the unemployment rate hit a four-year high, according to a government report released Friday.

The Labor Department reported a net loss of 51,000 jobs in the month. Economists surveyed by had been forecasting a loss of 75,000 jobs in the latest report.

The latest report brought job losses this year to 463,000. The June job loss number was revised to 51,000.

The unemployment rate rose to 5.7% from a 5.5% reading in June. It was the worst reading since March 2004, and slightly worse than economists’ forecast of a 5.6% rate.

The rate has now jumped a full percentage point from a year ago.

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By cyrena, August 3, 2008 at 8:25 pm Link to this comment


All of what you say is true in respect to the hiring of disabled people. And, believe it or not, there are some scattered agencies in scattered places, actually involved in that. If your state has a Department of Rehabilitation, (ours has steadily declined) they did at one time cater specifically to preparing the disabled for employment, and helping them find it. Theoretically speaking, it makes far more sense for the state to invest some funds in putting the disabled back to work, even if from their capitalistic view point, this means more people to collect taxes from, than having to PAY them from the same pot, and indefinitely,

But, that only makes sense in terms of who is disabled and actually collecting disability. If the state isn’t paying them disability benefits, then they don’t care what happens to them, or anybody else.

But, that wasn’t my question to Marshall the bean counter, who likes to believe that government statistics account for everybody, when they don’t come anywhere close.

In other words, to repeat what I mentioned before: ON TOP of the outsourcing that began in earnest over 2 decades ago in the corps, in manufacturing and in the service industries, all of the same have experienced a massive of jobs as the people that used to do them in the past 7 plus years. In short..massive layoffs or whatever you want to call them. It’s been accomplished under various names, with various tactics..downsizing, restructuring, whatever. Sometimes they just toss thousands of people out on the street with nothing, and other times they try to manage it slightly more selectively by offering buyouts and other so-called ‘early retirement” packages. The end result is the same. Compared to 8 years ago, there are several million more unemployed people who, for various reasons, are no longer seeking employment in a way that can be traced and calculated by the government bean counters.

The same ineffective method for tracking unemployment ALSO fails to even consider the number of people who, over the same period of time, have come of employment age, and have never been able to find jobs to become employed in the first place. That can apply to anyone between the ages of say 18 and 25, who, in coming of age to work for a living, cannot find a job, and it’s been that way for years. So, if they haven’t ever been able to secure employment to begin with, they don’t fall into any ‘unemployment’ statistics. At least not by Marshall’s way of explaining who is counted, and who isn’t. He says they’re only counted if they are seeking work, and if they aren’t disabled, and if they didn’t take a buy-out of some sort.

I wanna know how these bean counters can keep track of who is actually seeking employment?  Since they can’t, it means the numbers are meaningless.

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By Paracelsus, August 3, 2008 at 5:33 pm Link to this comment


“Do you REALLY believe that all of these millions that have been rendered unemployed over the past 7 years are still regularly looking for work, despite the fact that there are no new jobs?

How do you count them? “

By all means some of the disabled should be counted at least on a probabilistic basis as to employability. The job market has been made so competitive through outsourcing and illegal alien employment that those with disabilities who are at least partially functional are disregarded in favor of cheaper labor. Who knows know how many who are somewhat lame, blind or otherwise partially disabled could find some sort of employment if we did not have such cherry picking from a vast oversupply of labor. At one time we were more willing to take in ex-convicts in the labor market as well. Relief as the sole answer is only an expedient as well as an unnworthy salve to the conscience.

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By felicity, August 3, 2008 at 10:43 am Link to this comment

We Americans, so willing to accept capitalism as the only-way-to-go economic system must then also be prepared for the system’s inevitable famines as well as feasts.

An economic system which functions optimally when profit is as close to the poison line as possible will periodically wreak havoc on the lives of those from whom profit must be exacted. Don’t like it?  Dump the system.

From ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ to don’t-show-marble-genitalia-(even if part of the world’s greatest art works)-if-you-want-your-madefortelevision-travelogue- to-be-shown-on American-television, we Americans prefer our reality to be a construct of Walt Disney.

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Purple Girl's avatar

By Purple Girl, August 3, 2008 at 7:34 am Link to this comment

Read the article about the Bangledeshians in the wealthiest countries in the M.E.- Get a Mirror..endentured slavery heading OUR way.
Flood the market with deserate workers- driving down wages and ethical working condition expectation for the locals who you are not hiring… So they have no choice to also Lower their expectations and living standards- and you have a mjaor drop in the cost of the Commodity, Human labor.
Surprise Militant Anti Immigration zealots- it is not th eMexicans who are the culprits to this demise of the American Dream and Promise….It’s the Corps!
Theyv’e knocked US down a few Economic Pegs to hasten the process- lower wages & bennies, Increase debt because wages can’t keep up with living costs- fuel & Food, Take a few more loans from Loan shark foreign countries- sending the Nations debt forward a several Deacades and Voila’ you have an economy and labor market ripe for the Pickin’
Seems the only surge which has the alustrious earned reputation that has WokED, is the PURGE of the Middle class.Ever heard of a Caste system.
Frankly since I feel these wars havebeen nothing more then Business ventures, the citizens of this country against our further occupation, and believe compromise & peace on comes from a desire & intent..I don’t want to hear ‘Conditions on the Ground’ being considered Unless they are Referring to OUR Ground!

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By cyrena, August 3, 2008 at 2:34 am Link to this comment

Those retired or disabled (and thus can’t work) aren’t counted as unemployed.  Neither are they assumed to be working.  As above, if they’re employable and seeking work, they’re counted as unemployed.

Marshall, how is it determined that one is ‘seeking work.?

More to the point, in the MASSIVE layoff and firings that have occurred routinely over the past 7 1/2 years, across every single many of them are STILL seeking work, (my own former industry has lost nearly half a million workers since 2001) and how is that determined? Do they just check in and permanently register with some agency/bureaucracy?

Do you REALLY believe that all of these millions that have been rendered unemployed over the past 7 years are still regularly looking for work, despite the fact that there are no new jobs?

How do you count them?

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By felicity, August 2, 2008 at 11:56 am Link to this comment

From a recent study:  Last 5 years, unemployment averaged 8 percent, not 5 percent as reported. 

What would that make it today?  I’ve no idea but like everything else hitting the fan since the Supremes bequeathed AirForce I to George in 2000, it’s a good guess that employment possibilities have also hit the fan.

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By hippy pam, August 2, 2008 at 6:33 am Link to this comment

“bullsh*t” gave LOTS of our people jobs-in the MILITARY-after sending MOST OF THE JOBS in AMERICA ELSEWHERE-AND HE LOOTED THE AMERICAN TREASURY while he was at it…I’m sure he feels he is SUCCESSFUL in his ENDEAVORS as “commander in chief” of the U.S.A.-He will be remembered[his LEGACY]as a FAILURE!!!!!

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By Marshall, August 2, 2008 at 1:10 am Link to this comment

By purplewolf, August 1 at 2:47 pm #

“Don’t forget, the only ones who are being counted as unemployed are the ones still getting their unemployment checks.”

A common misconception.  Receiving Unemployment benefits is not a factor in the calculation of the official employment figures:

“Neither are those who either took a buy-out”

Depends on whether they’re looking for work or not.  If so, they’re counted.

“...or retired early, went on disability or as many bum off relatives when they can’t find a job, but since they are not counted anywhere, this government assumes they are working”

Those retired or disabled (and thus can’t work) aren’t counted as unemployed.  Neither are they assumed to be working.  As above, if they’re employable and seeking work, they’re counted as unemployed.

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By Louise, August 1, 2008 at 7:46 pm Link to this comment


“I have become overwhelmingly concerned about this myself, because of the hundreds of thousands of citizens joining the ranks of the homeless. How and where do they register to vote?”

That’s a very good question. I don’t know. Maybe we better find out! And thanks for the heads up on AlterNet’s book.

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By cyrena, August 1, 2008 at 6:57 pm Link to this comment

Re: By Louise, August 1 at 2:20 pm #

“So many liars. So little time.”


Ain’t it the truth? wink

I read the Greg Palast link, and sent it along to all.

Alternet has a book they are promoting for these purposes..

~Dear AlterNet Reader and Voter,
Count My Vote: What to know before you head to the polls. Buy Now!

There is a crucial election coming soon to your neighborhood, and to our entire nation. It is time to make sure we have all our ducks in a row to ensure the fairest of elections and insist that every vote counts.

Order our new book,  Count My Vote: A Citizen’s Guide to Voting, to make sure you, and all the election organizers, block captains, and active voters you know, are ready to deal with any problems in the voting process.

We are not doomsayers. But elections have been stolen in the past, as we know too well. So all voters need to be prepared.

To help spread the word, you can buy Count My Vote for $8, a 20% discount (plus shipping) for our loyal AlterNet readers.

Last week, The New York Times misinformed readers about protecting their right to vote in November. Instead of telling people to check their voter registration now, so mistakes can be corrected, they said to do it two weeks before Election Day. The Times did not report that by then, it would be too late in 27 states because voter registration would be closed!

It is too easy for the media to confuse voters, not to mention partisan types who will use misinformation to discourage voting. The most important points of information, like voter registration rules for every state are in Count My Vote. Order this essential 2008 Election Guide now!

For a Healthy Democracy,

Don Hazen

Executive Editor,

I have become overwhelmingly concerned about this myself, because of the hundreds of thousands of citizens joining the ranks of the homeless. How and where do they register to vote?

Thanks again

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Allan Krueger's avatar

By Allan Krueger, August 1, 2008 at 4:55 pm Link to this comment

Guess they need a new smoke machine and some larger mirrors!

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By yellowbird2525, August 1, 2008 at 4:41 pm Link to this comment

the major problem in this country & outward globally is located on Capitol Hill folks; a new Pres will NOT change any more than it has for years; in fact, Woodrow Wilson during WW1 lamented the fact that we were no longer a land of the FREE nor even of majority votes: WHOOOOOO problems even back then with TA DA “but under the dictates & rules of a few dominant men”; (DICTATORSHIP FOLKS: masquerading under the label of democracy which has become the most despicable & despised name on the planet thanks the antics of the US GOV; both parties are the same folks; the song & dance routine gets old & has been for years; the SAME folks lied to the Indians, Lied to the military, Lied to it’s dependents, Lied to it’s citizens; shot & killed JFK & had FBI claim that forensically it was “proven” that the same bullet that killed him came for Oswald’s gun who of course was killed instantly; FBI in 2006 said THIS IS NOT TRUE; and requested new evidence be introduced & prisoners released as it was quite simply INCORRECT that this could be proven; immediately, Schwartzeneger put into place a petition to make it a law that it WAS forensically possible (when indeed it is not); political patronage has been given to illegals for the past decades or more including job preferences etc; they are given $, cars, trucks, gas vouchers, no interest loans, no harrassing calls which are illegal & criminal along with the interest & addl fees CITIZENS have to pay on credit cards; long term goals & plans with a great deal of malice in their hearts towards the citizens of the USA; looks like even 911 was planned as a plane hitting a building in Europe did NOT go as “we” got to see as shown on TV. Go to prison planet & check out truthrising. I am getting convinced this is true folks; you check it out & you decide. The “not going backwards” means they plan to plow ahead with THEIR agenda which spells bad news for the USA people, land, and water, and on to the rest of the world;

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By purplewolf, August 1, 2008 at 3:47 pm Link to this comment

But we are not in a recession according to Bush. Things are looking up. I’d like to know where?

Where I am from, unemployment is well over 50% of the population. Don’t forget, the only ones who are being counted as unemployed are the ones still getting their unemployment checks. Those whose unemployment ran out, in many cases several years ago and still unemployed are not counted. Neither are those who either took a buy-out or retired early, went on disability or as many bum off relatives when they can’t find a job, but since they are not counted anywhere, this government assumes they are working, when in reality they are not. There are plenty of jobs that will take volunteers, the downside of that is it doesn’t pay the bills, past, present and future.

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By Louise, August 1, 2008 at 3:20 pm Link to this comment

So many liars. So little time.

The employment figures have been played with daily since the Bush moved into the White House. I’d be willing to bet unemployment is closer to 25%, but we aren’t supposed to notice.

Back in 2002, we were told at least 150,000 new jobs had to be created every month to take care of new workers moving into the job market. How many times has this administration hit that target since they took over? And that’s assuming those numbers still hold!

Obama blames Oil and McCain thinks we can solve the problem with small business. Apparently McCain hasn’t noticed the Wal-Mart Model has eliminated small business and manufacturing jobs all across the country.

Does McCain plan on eliminating Wal-Mart? ‘Cause nothing else will work.

And apparently Obama hasn’t noticed the 40 - 50% oil futures speculation factor in the cost of oil. ‘Cause if he had, that would have stopped already! So obviously neither one of them has a sensible solution in mind.

And Schumer blames construction. And I blame so-called conservatives, Bushes GWOT, Wall Street and Wal-Mart.

“The American people cannot afford economic policies that will take us backward” McCain wisely observes, having not observed for the past eight years how backward we have moved under republican economic policy ... duh.

But none of any of it is going to put a paycheck in anybody’s pocket anytime soon. Well except for a few millionaires and billionaires, here and there.

Then there’s that, “what difference does it make anyway?” factor. Since already those so-called conservatives are fixing the outcome of the vote.

Oh what the hey! Call them what they are, dirty rotten republicans!


In swing-state Colorado, the Republican Secretary of State conducted the biggest purge of voters in history, dumping a fifth of all registrations. Guess their color.

In swing-state Florida, the state is refusing to accept about 85,000 new registrations from voter drives – overwhelming Black voters.

In swing state New Mexico, HALF of the Democrats of Mora, a dirt poor and overwhelmingly Hispanic county, found their registrations disappeared this year, courtesy of a Republican voting contractor.

In swing states Ohio and Nevada, new federal law is knocking out tens of thousands of voters who lost their homes to foreclosure.

Obama Doesn’t Sweat. He should.
by Greg Palast

[You really need to read this!]

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