About 120,000 out-of-work West Virginians applied for aid in 2009 — and few of them found new jobs, so they’re still collecting monthly help. It’s a dismal picture. However, West Virginia’s distress is slightly less than the national average. Economic suffering in many other states is considerably worse.
In his State of the Union speech Wednesday night, President Obama is expected to focus on the need for more job-creating programs. He claims that 2 million U.S. jobs have been saved or created by his emergency stimulus efforts — but he acknowledges that 7 million have been lost. He called the losses ‘‘an epidemic that demands our relentless and sustained response.’’
The Great Recession is hurting average American families severely. Wall Street moguls are reaping billion-dollar bonanzas, and the stock market is rewarding the investor class, but ordinary folks are suffering painful career losses. it’s taking longer to find work. Last month, jobless people had been unemployed for an average of 29 weeks, the most since records began in 1948.
‘‘The actual unemployment rate is higher than shown by the official numbers,’’ economist Harm Bandholz of UniCredit Research commented. During the last half of 2009, around 1.7 million Americans gave up and stopped looking for work — the biggest six-month number since 1961. The share of the U.S. population in the labor force has dropped to 64 percent, the lowest level in 24 years.
The so-called underemployment rate is above 17 percent. Added to the 10 percent unemployment rate, that means more than a quarter of Americans can’t find work, and many others have stopped trying.
‘‘We’re going to have to work harder to create jobs.’’ U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said. ‘‘This is a very stubborn recession.’’
Bravo. As we’ve suggested before, why not revive the historic Civilian Conservation Corps and put multitudes to work in healthy outdoor jobs in parks and the like?
It’s a shame that average families are paying a grim price for hard times caused mostly by reckless greed among the wealthy few and poor government regulation during the previous administration.
We hope West Virginia’s members of Congress support every job-creating plan proposed by the president.