More than three years after we entered the worst economic slump since the 1930s, a strange and disturbing thing has happened to our political discourse: Washington has lost interest in the unemployed.
Jobs do get mentioned now and then — and a few political figures, notably Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, are still trying to get some kind of action. But no jobs bills have been introduced in Congress, no job-creation plans have been advanced by the White House and all the policy focus seems to be on spending cuts.
So one-sixth of America’s workers — all those who can’t find any job or are stuck with part-time work when they want a full-time job — have, in effect, been abandoned.
It might not be so bad if the jobless could expect to find new employment fairly soon. But unemployment has become a trap, one that’s very difficult to escape. There are almost five times as many unemployed workers as there are job openings; the average unemployed worker has been jobless for 37 weeks, a post-World War II record.
In short, we’re well on the way to creating a permanent underclass of the jobless. Why doesn’t Washington care?…
I’ll take “Because those guys have jobs, at least for the next 18 months, and they can’t think any further ahead” for $1,000, Alex! Of course, since Krugman herewith specifically mentions “young workers” as liable to suffer longest as the result of the current Economic Unpleasantness, perhaps we should be grateful that new opportunities for the sufficiently fit and desperate are opening up in Libya even as we read…