Feature

Why chronic joblessness gets ignored

Washington has “permanently scarred the labor market” by doing nothing about long-term unemployment.

Derek ThompsonTheAtlantic.com

Washington has “permanently scarred the labor market” by doing nothing about long-term unemployment, said Derek Thompson. Politicians rallied to blunt the recession and rescue big banks, but they haven’t addressed the “self-perpetuating” plight of the more than 4.4 million Americans who haven’t worked for 27 weeks or more. Why did our nation’s leaders “respond to the first emergency like an ambulance siren and the second like a harmless murmur of white noise?” The easy answer is that protecting big financial institutions was necessary—they were simply too big to fail. But it goes beyond that. Republicans have never liked the idea of stimulating the job market, but even Democrats have shown “a stunning lack of urgency toward the crisis of long-term joblessness.” What’s really to blame here is “the mind-shifting power of money in politics.” To stay in office these days, every politician has to become “a telemarketer for people with lots of money.” It simply doesn’t pay to devote time to an issue like long-term joblessness, which doesn’t touch those donors. Our skewed political ecosystem leaves our leaders unable to act on “a national emergency that is devastating millions of families and making the country permanently poorer.”

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