The Dow may be back over 14,000, but the troubles of the unemployed are far from over. Although the official unemployment rate has fallen to 7.7%, the lowest level in several years, many of those back at work are working for far less than before. Meanwhile, the states and the federal government are enacting new unemployment insurance eligibility restrictions and directly cutting benefit amounts.
Robert Pollin’s book eloquently presents practical proposals for putting massive numbers of unemployed Americans back to work. Remarkably, many pundits and policy makers blame the unemployed themselves for their situation, ascribing their joblessness to their own deficiencies in the skills and training needed for the “new” economy. As someone who speaks to unemployed people every day, I have been struck by the opposite: that many, if not all, of those out of work have skills, education, and long work histories. Most are also almost desperately anxious to get back to work.
Jon Bloom has been the Executive Director of the Workers Defense League in New York City for over two decades. The Workers Defense League was founded in 1936 by Norman Thomas and friends, and has been committed to fighting for the legal rights of workers ever since.