The pain of the unemployment axe continues as new numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor show employers cut 263,000 jobs last month. The unemployment rate now stands at 9.8 percent, a 26-year high. The rate would have been much higher had 571,000 people – frustrated over not being able to find a job – not dropped out the labor force last month.
News of the increase comes on the heels of a survey showing Americans are more concerned about jobs than they are with the rising federal budget deficit. The “Tracking the Recovery: Voters’ Views on the Recession, Jobs and the Deficit” report released by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows 83 percent of Americans see unemployment as a huge problem and 73 percent believe the government must first act to get Americans back to work, before it can even begin to address budget issues.
“These findings will help policy makers understand that they can do what they need to do to create a sound, jobs-based recovery without losing public support over the federal deficit,” says EPI President Lawrence Mishel. “And for those who have assumed that the deficit will trump all other concerns, it’s a wake-up call.”
The IAM has been urging the federal government to address the growing jobs crisis since the launch of its JOBS Now! campaign in early summer. The initiative calls for a second stimulus package – this time, one that focuses directly on creating jobs. JOBS Now! calls for a 21st century-style program, similar to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration, which put more than 8.5 million Americans back to work in government-funded public works projects. The EPI survey shows 71 percent of Americans support such a measure. In addition, the JOBS Now! campaign also demands more opportunities for Americans to upgrade their skills through training and higher education.
“The IAM’s JOBS NOW! campaign is exactly the kind of ‘sound, jobs-based recovery’ this country needs,” says IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “The deficit is a problem – but having more than 31 million Americans idled to any degree is a much bigger problem. The time for Congress to act is now. Families cannot afford to wait.”