From the White House: a Bleak Picture for the Unemployed
Digging a bit deeper into the annual White House economic report, released yesterday, there’s this statement about the enormity of the nation’s jobs crisis. “[E]ven a quick return to job growth will not immediately eliminate employment problems, as it will take time to create the millions of new jobs needed to return to normal employment levels.”
That part we knew. Job creation has been the lagging indicator in recessions stretching back two decades, and, as the Labor Department reported recently, the economy has shed 8.4 million jobs since this recession began 25 months ago.
“This is an enormous hole we’re in,” Chad Stone, senior economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said recently.
But the White House also offers this warning about the likely consequences of the long-term unemployment problem — an assessment rare in Washington for its brutal honesty.
Many workers will have difficulty finding work for some time to come. Extended periods of high unemployment and low job creation rates mean that many displaced workers will exhaust their unemployment insurance benefits before jobs become available in large numbers. After months or even years of unemployment, most who exhaust their benefits will likely have used up whatever savings they had when they lost their jobs. Many will be forced to turn to public assistance—temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance (formerly known as food stamps), or other similar programs—to make ends meet.
The message is clear: For millions of Americans, this thing will get worse before it gets better. And there’s only so much that Washington can do.