Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wall Street Declares War on the Unemployed

By Mitchell Hirsch

It appears that I underestimated the brazen contempt that Wall Street has for America's unemployed millions, and for the millions more working only part-time despite wanting full-time work.

Last month, in a post titled Blaming Unemployment Insurance for Unemployment — prompted by a JPMorgan Chase report that attempted to do just that — I wrote:

This kind of cockamamie pseudo-science would just be laughable if it weren't a potentially dangerous threat to the survival of millions of unemployed Americans. You can bet that bank lobbyists and their conservative cronies are circulating this report and others like it to gin up opposition to extending unemployment benefits.

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal editorial, titled Incentives Not to Work, which blames long-term unemployment on extended jobless benefits, amounts to Wall Street's declaration of war on America's unemployed.

Conveniently ignoring a logical foundation of rational thought — that correlation does not imply causation — the Journal posits that because there are extended unemployment benefits, there is more long-term unemployment.

… sure enough, the share of unemployed workers who don't have a job for more than 26 weeks has steadily increased, reaching a record 44.1% in March. The average spell of unemployment is now 31 weeks, even though the economy is once again creating more new jobs than it is losing. Democrats are slowly converting unemployment insurance into a welfare program.

By extension, they might as well say that because of extended unemployment benefits, employers are more reluctant to hire.

The Wall Street Journal's editors have the incredible gall to blame record long-term unemployment levels on unemployment insurance payments. Not the Great Recession, caused by Wall Street's financial train wreck. Not the lack of available jobs, caused by Wall Street's financial train wreck. But on unemployment insurance payments, made necessary by Wall Street's financial train wreck.

The Journal fails to mention that there are nearly six jobless workers for every one job opening, and that more than half the small number of newly added jobs are temporary — while another chunk are part-time jobs.

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