The Scary Specter of Structural Unemployment

From the WSJ*, while unemployment falls, the long-term unemployed struggle.  Bad news for them and for our society:

“The diverging fortunes of the long and short-term unemployed worry many economists because it suggests the emergence of deeper, structural problems that could persist long after the rest of the economy recovers.  Rather than returning work…the long-term unemployed could effectively break off from the normal job market, ultimately forming an underclass of the more of less permanently unemployed.

“Economists generally divide unemployment into two categories.  Cyclical unemployment stems from weakness in the overall economy, which pushes down demand for goods and services, and therefore the need for the workers that provide them.  Structural unemployment reflects deeper problems, such as a mismatch between the skills workers have and the ones employers need.  Structural unemployment, unlike cyclical, doesn’t disappear when the economy improves.

“”But some economists argue that in the wake of a severe recession, the lines between cyclical and structural unemployment can become blurred.  Workers who lose their jobs because of cyclical factors…might stay out of work so long that they become effectively unemployable.  Their skills erode, they fall behind on the latest technologies and industry trends, or they become stigmatized by employers who assume there must be something wrong with anyone who has been unemployed so long.”  Emphasis added.

*”Time Not on Side of the Jobless,” Ben Casselman

Is the GOP Really Going to Nominate This Guy?

Mitt the Tone Deaf told CNN, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.”

Given a chance to walk that back, he doubled down!  “I said I’m not concerned about the very poor that have a safety net, but if it has holes in it, I will repair them.  You can choose where to focus.  You can focus on the rich.  That’s not my focus.  You can focus on the very poor.  That’s not my focus.  My focus is on middle income Americans….”

So he’s saying the poor can just stay where they are and remain at their subsistence level, he has no interest in helping them move into the middle class.  This is completely antithetical to everything that America means and stands for.  We don’t believe in a permanent underclass, we believe in upward mobility.  We are the country where you were a guy with a cart selling pickles on the Lower East Side, but your son became a judge or a surgeon.

It is also the rap that the GOP likes to lay on the Dems — that the Dems don’t really care about the poor as they profess to, that they like to keep them dependent on their public housing and food stamps and Medicaid so the Dems have a built-in voting block they can rely on.

Poor people were never going to vote for Mitt.  But better-off people who care about the poor, maybe because they or their parents or their grandparents used to be poor, won’t either.  That’s a voting bloc the GOP can’t afford to lose.

For all the GOP’s garbage that Obama is the “Other” who doesn’t understand and believe in America, it’s their guy Mitt who can’t open his silver-spoon-clogged mouth without revealing that he really is the “Other.”

The Romney campaign may be celebrating their Florida victory, but the GOP should be in panic mode.  You’re saddled with a big loser.