In Sunday's New York Times, Peter S. Goodman discusses how many of America's unemployed face years without jobs:
Until she was laid off two years ago, Janine Booth, 41, brought home roughly $10,000 a month in commissions from her job selling electronics to retailers. A single mother of three, she has been living lately on $1,000 a month in child support and about $450 a week in unemployment insurance — a stream of checks that ran out last week.And Don Peck has a superb essay in the current issue of the Atlantic, in which he discusses the major psychological changes Americans are about to go through as a result of this deep economic downturn:
Ms. Booth, with a résumé full of well-paid sales jobs, seems the sort of person who would have little difficulty getting work. Yet two years of looking have yielded little but anxiety.
She sends out dozens of résumés a week and rarely hears back. She responds to online ads, only to learn they are seeking operators for telephone sex lines or people willing to send mysterious packages from their homes.
She spends weekdays in a classroom in Anaheim, in a state-financed training program that is supposed to land her a job in medical administration. Even if she does find a job, she will be lucky if it pays $15 an hour.
“What is going to happen?” she asked plaintively. “I worry about my kids. I just don’t want them to think I’m a failure.”
On a recent weekend, she was running errands with her 18-year-old son when they stopped at an A.T.M. and he saw her checking account balance: $50.
“He says, ‘Is that all you have?’ ” she recalled. “ ‘Are we going to be O.K.?’ ”
Yes, she replied — and not only for his benefit.
“I have to keep telling myself it’s going to be O.K.,” she said. “Otherwise, I’d go into a deep depression.”
Historically, financial crises have spawned long periods of economic malaise, and this crisis, so far, has been true to form. Despite the bailouts, many banks’ balance sheets remain weak; more than 140 banks failed in 2009. As a result, banks have kept lending standards tight, frustrating the efforts of small businesses—which have accounted for almost half of all job losses—to invest or rehire.These two articles should be sent to every member of congress, as well as to President Obama's economic team. Because the current watered down jobs bill isn't going to be enough to turn the current situation around fast enough.
...The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who fears a lost decade, said in a lecture at the London School of Economics last summer that he has “no idea” how the economy could quickly return to strong, sustainable growth. Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, told the Associated Press last fall, “I think the unemployment rate will be permanently higher, or at least higher for the foreseeable future. The collective psyche has changed as a result of what we’ve been through. And we’re going to be different as a result.”
...Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, notes that if the recovery follows the same basic path as the last two (recessions), unemployment will stand at roughly 8 percent in 2014.
“We haven’t seen anything like this before: a really deep recession combined with a really extended period, maybe as much as eight years, all told, of highly elevated unemployment,” Shierholz told me. “We’re about to see a big national experiment on stress.”