10 Years Ago: Unemployment Analysis from Richard Wolff

Recently, employers, particularly those in the service sector, have been lamenting about a shortage of labor while nearly 10 million Americans are officially unemployed. However, as Prof Wolff explains, if you include those working part-time jobs but want full-time positions, and workers that have given up on finding a job, that number is closer to 20 million. In addition, the pandemic and 2020 crisis further underlined our need for improved elder care, child care, health care, education, and more, which would require more jobs to be created in these industries.

We have work that needs to be done, and people who want to work. So why do we still have significant unemployment?

“On the 4th of July our business leaders give speeches about the wonders of competition, but they don't want competition from the government."
 
Professor Wolff tackles this question in a short video, the second of a monthly Economic Update 10th Anniversary series that aims to look back at relevant moments from a decade ago to explore how, since then, capitalism - and its impact on our society and the world - has changed.

The rate of unemployment has remained largely unchanged in the last 10 years, a particularly critical time bookended by economic crises which threw millions into financial tailspins and further emphasized the myriad of basic needs that American society lacks, which would require a growing workforce. But an employer class that wants to maximize profits by minimizing labor costs are the ones calling the shots.

“Leading politicians didn't even talk about [a federal jobs program] as if amnesia had taken over and we didn't remember in [the Great Depression], this terrible period of capitalist crisis, what was done successfully. And so we didn't have a federal jobs program [in 2020], and the business community clapped because their biggest fear, their worst nightmare, is a government offering good jobs to millions of unemployed people.”

Will this destructive manipulation continue? How can we learn from this history?

10 years ago, Economic Update with Richard Wolff was the first program produced by Democracy at Work, and it has brought you analysis of questions like these every week for a decade. 

Producing Economic Update has always depended on audience donations. To help us grow for another 10 years, please consider donating to Democracy at Work with a monthly gift. Our monthly supporters are invaluable to us, in that they allow us to plan for the future, and commit to bringing you more Economic Update. Thank you.


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