Jobless Data Shows Need for Jobs Program

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One of the worst aspects of the ongoing healthcare reform imbroglio (aside from the fact that it's likely to produce terrible policy) is that for last last few months it has pushed most other issues off the national political agenda. Chief among them is the swelling rate of joblessness in the United States, which has not received nearly the amount of attention it might have otherwise from the media and policymakers.

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the official jobless rate surpassed 10% in 14 states and the District of Columbia in August, and that unemployment remained steady or grew in 34 of 50 states. Among the hardest hit states are Michigan (15.2%), Nevada (13.2%), Rhode Island (12.8), and California (12.2%), while my own state of New York clocked in at a healthier, but still bad, 9%.

Speaking of New York, the Fiscal Policy Institute released a study last week on unemployment and economic insecurity in the Empire State, and the numbers are rather grim. Joblessness has increased by almost 400,000 since early last year, and unemployment in New York City has jumped to 10.3%. While the official statewide unemployment rate is at 9%, the "real" rate in the first half of 2009 (taking into account underemployment and workers who have stopped looking for jobs) has soared to 14.1%. Black and Hispanic workers have been hit even harder. The official unemployment rate for black men stands at a terrible 18.3%, but the real rate is a horrifying 27%. The real unemployment rate for Hispanics is about 18%.

The rest of the study contains valuable data on income, inequality, poverty, and other measurements, and it's well worth reading. It goes without saying that those numbers are similarly depressing.

Even though Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has announced that the recession is all but over, these employment numbers are not going to to improve anytime soon. All signs point to yet another jobless recovery, and as Doug Henwood recently pointed out, during this downturn private sector employers have been on a near-total hiring strike. It's going to be incredibly tough for the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs during the past two years to get back on their feet again.

So what is to be done? These numbers make it abundantly clear that Congress and the Obama administration need to invest in a second stimulus package centered arond a major jobs program that can provide the employment that the private sector is not willing or able to provide. This could involve not just the kinds of projects contained in the first stimulus package (rail, water, retrofitting, and other infrastructure projects) but also jobs in childcare, public works, and other services that would not only put people to work but make the benefits of government spending immediately visible, as has not been the case with stimulus funding so far.

Yes, winning a program like this in the near future seems about as likely as the Knicks ever making the playoffs again (translation for non-sports fans: not very likely). But since the unemployment problem will be a major concern for the foreseeable future, it's something a winning political coalition could potentially be built around in the longer term.


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Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump

February 17, 2017 · $20.00 USD

Location: MayDay Space
Where: 176 St Nicholas Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
When: Friday, February 17th at 6 PM to Sunday, February 19th to 4 PM

Political Context

This Presidents’ Day weekend, the Young Democratic Socialists will gather for our annual winter conference in New York City titled Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump. We did not choose the name lightly. In doing so, we call for leftists to collectively confront Trump and Trumpism at every possible opportunity. When a Trump administration attempts mass deportations of undocumented workers, when it attempts to register Muslims or roll back worker protections, when it attempts to take away reproductive, LGTBQ, civil, or any other rights, then we must militantly resist to prevent such measures.

To succeed, this must be explicitly socialist resistance. With liberalism having repeatedly shown itself incapable of combating the far right, it is now the time for socialists to openly declare our place in building the mass, multi-racial, and working class movement necessary for defeating the Trump administration. In this struggle, millennials will play an outsized role. That is why this conference comes at such a critical time—together we must create spaces for democratic and strategic discussion, spaces to gain organizing skills, and most importantly, spaces to form networks of young radicals for the future struggles ahead. These spaces will only come together if socialists come together. Join us this Presidents Weekend and help ignite the movement to defeat the Trump administration, continue the political revolution, and build the socialist alternative.

Key Deadlines

  • January 8th: Travel Scholarship for Air Travel (for application see below)
  • January 15th: Travel Scholarship for Non-Air Travel (ex: bus, car, train, etc.)
  • February 3rd: Early Bird Registration Ends - Tickets prices go up from $5 to $10
  • February 10th: Free Housing - We have limited free housing. You need to first register, then you will be sent an application for free housing.

Apply for a travel scholarship here! (First Deadline January 8, 2017)

Check out the working program (subject to change)