June's job creation and unemployment figures released yesterday represent another disastrous month for the American economy.
The unemployment rate rose again, this time to 9.5 percent, the highest in 26 years. Some 14.7 million Americans were unemployed in June and, if those who have stopped looking for jobs or who have settled for part-time jobs are included in the total, the rate is 16.5 percent, or one in every six American workers.
Happy talk emanating from the federal government, promoting the effectiveness of the expensive economic stimulus package to banks, financial houses and auto companies, says that the employment rate will be one of the last indicators to show improvement in the economy. What exactly are Americans supposed to do at this point? Gauge the state of the economy by the rise in bailed-out bank executives' salaries? Or maybe how much swindler Bernie Madoff's wife, Ruth, got to keep of his ill-gotten gains?
President Barack Obama cannot be faulted for putting the salvation of the sagging American economy at the top of his list of priorities to tackle. The question is whether it has been done right. Looking at the key figure of job creation, we would note that -- instead of putting out there the some 150,000 new jobs per month that are needed just to stay even in the face of new entries into the economy -- employers cut some 467,000 jobs in June, more than government and private prognosticators had predicted. Even they had expected a loss of 363,000 jobs. If that would have been good news, heaven help the country.
So what can be done? Why not start, first, with the Obama administration seeing to it that the economic stimulus money it is dishing out, running up the national debt enormously in the process, goes to job creation, not to banks buying other banks, or to restoring or supporting the shocking levels of compensation that senior executives have become accustomed to?
A second useful step would be to see that none of the economic stimulus money goes to relieving the states, including Pennsylvania, from meeting their obligation to live within their means. A good start on Pennsylvania's part would be to reduce the size of the Legislature. A second would be to auction off the franchises for the liquor stores. A third would be to reduce the membership of the various commissions that reside in various parts of the Pennsylvania state government, currently providing employment opportunities for multiple political appointees.
Mr. Obama's economic stimulus program was a good idea. Current unemployment figures show that so far it isn't working in putting jobs into the market. Some adjustment is clearly needed.