The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release


Unemployment and "Debt Distraction"


CHRISTINE OWENS, via Timothy Bradley, tim at

Executive director of the National Employment Law Project, Owens said in reaction to the new unemployment numbers: "The clamoring over debt in Washington has distracted us from the far more immediate crisis of high unemployment and a severe jobs shortage. Addressing the urgent crisis the jobs deficit poses is also an important part of the answer to the budget deficit. Restoring opportunity to millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans will rebuild the revenues needed to pay down the debt and bring down deficits." See: "Discouraging May Jobs Report Sustains 11 Million Jobs Deficit."

MAX FRAAD WOLFF, mfwolff at,

Wolff is an instructor at the Graduate Program in International Affairs at the New School University and senior analyst with Greencrest Capital. He said today: "May was a very weak month for jobs. Non-farm payrolls increased by 25 percent of the recent rate with 54,000 net new jobs created and an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent. Forty-five percent of our unemployed -- 6.2 million people -- have been out of work for over 27 weeks. Average hourly earnings increased by .3 percent. This continues a trend of earnings increasing more slowly than prices. Flat wages, rising prices and high unemployment continue to reduce confidence and comfort among consumers and business. The U-6 broad measure of unemployment stands at 15.8 percent in May. U-6 includes people who are part-time but seek full-time work and those who want and need work but have stopped actively looking for work.

"We continue to see large job losses in the public sector, including 29,000 in May. Job losses are centered in local governments that reduced payrolls by 28,000. 17,500 of these local lay-offs were in local education employment. ... It is worth remembering that local government services are essential support for many low-income Americans. In addition, local jobs are historically important income and opportunity supports for the middle class. Local governments disproportionately employ veterans, women and people of color. Major losses of employment in local employment will fall very hard on these groups, particularly in a weak economy context.

"This was a short week long on troubling economic news. The week began with a very distressing housing report. The residential real estate market has clearly double-dipped. Consumer confidence and most leading economic measures are flashing warning. Greek debt, the U.S. debt ceiling and Japanese fallout continue to contaminate the global economy. Energy and food prices are combining with developed world weakness to challenge emerging market economic growth. ...

"Our economy continues to struggle. The bottom quintiles are still very much in a recession. Residential homes have lost 33 percent of their value. This is the only major asset that middle and lower middle class Americans own. The job market remains weak. Wage growth has been anemic and has failed to keep up with rising food and energy prices. Local public services and jobs are being cut. There is concentrated suffering and fear in the bottom 60 percent of U.S. households by income. This will be pronounced over the summer and may be the shaping 'x-factor' of the 2012 election cycle."

A nationwide consortium, the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) represents an unprecedented effort to bring other voices to the mass-media table often dominated by a few major think tanks. IPA works to broaden public discourse in mainstream media, while building communication with alternative media outlets and grassroots activists.