A good article by Sandra Livingston in the Cleveland Plain Dealer a few years ago was titled "Getting
a job one day at a time" regarding temporary help and one has to wonder how the unemployment rate can be so low. Only
about 38% of all workers now qualify for unemployment insurance in America. Temporary, casual labor, day labor, part-time,
lease and independent jobs grow and grow. In the 1970s, the employment rate was primarily based on full-time jobs with
benefits including most workers qualifying for unemployment insurance. Today this is not the case. There is no unemployment
data covering these workers. Millions are "missing in action" from any kind of reporting.
In the high-tech area,
a top industry magazine reported that workers were ready for a UPS type strike in Silicon Valley, where at the time, 40 percent
of all high tech workers reside. It never happened because so many were competing for the same jobs. In the Slicon Valley,
many jobs are now temporary contract jobs with many more inviting because they last longer than the regular jobs. The temp
jobs carry few benefits if any at all. The media and government keeps reporting a scarcity of high tech workers. In the Clinton
years, millions in the high tech industries lost their jobs. In 1997 and 1998 alone, close to 500,000 lost their jobs
in high tech.
Surrounding these years, during the most massive dislocation of jobs in U.S. history, more
than a 100 computer manufacturers in the U.S. closed down. With others, the only thing that remains in the USA was their brand
name with most of all operations outside the USA.
We need to ask and keep asking how the low unemployment rate is counted. It is obvious it does
not match up with what is happening on the streets. Hurrican Katrina in New Orleans exposed a vast underclass which contradicted most
In our city, there are more than 250 temporary help offices in the yellow pages. We had
only a few back in the 1970s when the population of the city was double in size. We went to a world series baseball
game in the late 1990s and celebrated a victory but our emotions were change rapidly after seeing a sea of black faces
waiting to clean up our mess at the stadium. There was no sign of celebration in their faces. The celebration of statistical
prosperity is limited to only a few. On top of this, we have the greatest number of children living in poverty among
all the developed countries in the world . At the same time, the stock market thrives on workers getting fired instead
of hired while letters to the editor complain about beggars on our main downtown streets.
This commentary was
first written around the time Warren Beatty made a political satire movie. He said a 100 million or so were worst
off than ever in their lives. A church bulletin in our city stated - "Success was getting to Social Security age
before having to declare bankruptcy". This is America in our times. Paraphrasing Senator Everett Dirksen,
Beatty says 100 million here and a 100 million there starts adding up to alot of people. It makes one wonder how many of us
are living in a silent depression as the food lines grow in our cities and rural areas.
* Note: The Bureau
of Labor Statistics unemployment data is based on a monthly interviewing of 50,000 households with occupants over the age
of 16. These occupants are asked if they were looking for a job in a certain week in the previous month. If they say
no, they are considered employed even if they do not have a jobs.