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Latest Jobs Report Reveals Woeful Impact of US Austerity

Common Dreams staff

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The US jobs report released Friday showed the creation of 172,000 private sector jobs in July. Despite those nominal gains, nearly 9,000 public sector jobs were lost, a trend that many observers argue reveals the negative impact austerity measures and public sector budget cuts have had on economic growth.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report, Federal employment fell by 2,000 jobs, state government employment fell by 6,000, and local government employment fell by 1,000. Unemployment inched up to 8.3 per cent.

“The July jobs numbers highlight the folly of those who are demanding more cuts in government spending,” said Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future. “They are bleeding an economy that is barely in recovery – and then blaming those who are trying to provide relief.”

“Americans have been badly served by a tea party Republican right that has departed from the traditional policies of both parties in recessions, and demanded austerity in a time of trouble. As we head towards the fiscal cliff in December, when the sequester calls for cutting some 10 percent from discretionary spending, legislators in both parties should reconsider inflicting more pain on this very weak economy.”

In this vein, a new report this week, "Prosperity Economics; Building an Economy For All," authored by Jacob Hacker and Nathaniel Loewentheil, calls for "immediate action to jump-start our sagging economy" by spending on infrastructure, schools and the other public sectors of the economy that have suffered under the pressure of austerity economics.

"The experience of 2008 tells us that an economy built on the prosperity of a few is inherently unstable," said Deepak Bhargava, director of the Center for Community Change, in response to Hacker's report. He said the report was an essential guide for returning growth and growing a shared prosperity to all segments of society. He added, however, "We have to be honest. Our leaders in Washington are running headlong in the wrong direction."

Hacker and Loewentheil lamented this week that the 'mythology of austerity' had gained so much traction in Washington these days, "that even if Obama wins reelection, we may end up with cuts in education and economic security only slightly less draconian than those in GOP blueprints."

"This would be a huge loss for our society," they wrote, "and a huge lost opportunity to revive faith among middle-class Americans that government can address their strains."

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