Tuesday, February 09, 2010

the worst of the pain

NYTimes | There is a great tendency in this country to refuse to see what is right in front of everybody’s eyes.

While there is now, finally, a great deal of talk among the politicians and in the news media about unemployment, there is still almost a willful refusal to focus on just who is suffering the most from joblessness and underemployment.

When it comes to employment, there are roughly three broad categories in the United States. The folks in the upper-income group are not suffering much, if at all, from the profound reversals in employment brought about by the Great Recession. Those in the middle have been hit hard. The job losses there have been severe and long-lasting. But for those in the lower-income groups, the scale of the employment crisis has been mind-boggling.

What you’re not hearing from the politicians and the talking heads is that the joblessness and underemployment in America’s low-income households rival their heights in the Great Depression of the 1930s — and in some instances are worse. The same holds true for some categories of blue-collar workers. Anyone who thinks this devastating problem is going away soon, or that the economy can be put back on track without addressing it, is deluded.