U.S. unemployment

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U.S. unemployment, whether the statistics show improvement or decline, will play a role in the decisionmaking process for the electorate in the U.S. congressional elections in 2006 and the U.S. presidential election, 2008.

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  • Steven Greenhouse, As Factory Jobs Disappear, Workers Have Few Options, New York Times, September 13, 2003.
  • Hiawatha Bray, As Economy Gains, Outsourcing Surges, Boston Globe, November 2, 2003.
  • Dan Wilchins, US Job Cuts More Than Doubled in October- Report, Reuters, November 4, 2003.
  • Robert Kuttner, Political 'Beat the Clock', Boston Globe, December 3, 2003.
  • Louis Uchitelle, Employers Balk at New Hiring, Despite Growth, New York Times, December 6, 2003: "The work force grew by only 57,000 jobs last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported yesterday -- only a third of what most forecasters had projected. The jobs report pushed down stock prices and interest rates. But for many economists, there was clear evidence, too, that the recovery has staying power: the unemployment rate dipped to 5.9 percent from 6 percent in October, and November was the fourth straight month of rising employment."
  • Floyd Norris, Grasping at the Statistics on the Self-Employed, New York Times, December 6, 2003: "The self-employed came to the rescue last month, and the result was that the unemployment rate came down even as companies were hiring fewer people than most economists had expected. ... The self-employed are a group that statisticians have a hard time dealing with, and the apparent growth in that group may or may not be a good sign for the economy. Some people who say they are self-employed may really be out of work and trying to bring in money as consultants or freelance workers. Others may be doing very well, living a dream of boss-free success. ... In any case, the government reported that the number of self-employed workers rose by 156,000 last month, to 9.2 million. That gain was a primary reason that the unemployment rate dropped to 5.9 percent."
  • Too Few Hires, Still, New York Times Op-Ed, December 6, 2003: "It was, to be fair, the fourth-consecutive month of added jobs, and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.9 percent. Still, the 57,000 jobs created in the month were far below expectations, and fell short of the 200,000-plus needed per month, on average, to reduce the unemployment rate substantially."
  • No Cheer for the Unemployed, New York Times Op-Ed, December 9, 2003.
  • Happy Days, The New Yorker, December 15, 2003: "When President Bush took office, about 17.1 million Americans worked in factories; today, 14.5 million do. Last month, another seventeen thousand manufacturing jobs disappeared. Manufacturing employment has now fallen for forty straight months."
  • Kevin Danaher and Jason Mark, White-Collar Anger, AlterNet, December 18, 2003: "'People are tired and angry and upset,' says [Pete Bennett, a] 47-year-old unemployed worker from Danville, California, frustration noticeable in his voice. 'People are hurting, losing their homes. If we keep pulling jobs out of the country, how is the economy going to stay up?' ... Coming from an autoworker or a steelworker, these would be familiar words. But Bennett isn't a laid off Ford or GM employee. He used to work for companies such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo, where, as a contract database programmer, he earned between $80,000 and $90,000 a year. But in the last year, he says, he hasn't been able to find any programming work - such jobs, he is told, are moving overseas. ... Bennett is not alone. In recent years, hundreds of thousands of highly skilled, well-paid positions have been sent abroad."
  • Leslie Haggin Geary, Vanishing jobs. Structural change in the economy means many jobs are never going to come back, CNN, December 18, 2003. Article includes chart on "Most Vulnerable Jobs" through 2015.
  • Susan Milligan, Across US, jobless losing benefits. Proposals that would extend aid spark debate, Boston Globe, December 21, 2003: "More than 90,000 people who have been out of work for months will lose their federal benefits today, when a program to aid the long-term unemployed expires. ... During the first six months of next year, more than 2 million unemployed people across the country will be cut off from the extra assistance, unless Congress acts. In Massachusetts, 2,500 workers a week will lose their benefits, according to government statistics studied by a congressional committee and several economic analysis groups."


  • Paul Krugman, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, New York Times Op-Ed, February 10, 2004: "We expect politicians to place a positive spin on economic news, but to insist that things are going great when many people have personal experience to the contrary seems foolish. Mr. Bush's father lost the 1992 election in large part because he was perceived as being out of touch with the difficulties faced by ordinary Americans. Why is Mr. Bush -- whose poll numbers are a bit worse than his father's were at this point in 1992 -- running the risk of repeating his experience? ... The answer, I think, is that the younger Mr. Bush has no choice. He has literally gone for broke, with repeated tax cuts that have fed a $500 billion deficit. To justify policies that more and more people call irresponsible, he must claim that wonderful things are happening as a result."