The Labor Department’s September jobs report can only be described as horrific. The media and markets focused on the fact that the 263,000 jobs lost in September exceeded the forecast by nearly 100,000. But there was equally bad, in fact worse, news in the details.
Someone who is laid off for a few weeks may have to postpone a vacation. Someone who is out of work for several months may miss a car payment. But people who are out of work for more than six months are likely to see their life become unhinged. The number of people who were looking for work in September but had been out of a job for more than 27 weeks increased by 450,000 to 5.4 million.
There are many in the Congress who are understandably suffering from spending fatigue. The hole that the current recession left in the American economy is enormous, and the cost of restoring the nation’s economic health is exceeded only by the cost of not restoring it. We have done much of what is needed, but the nation cannot turn its back on the monumental amount of suffering that is still taking place.
States are rapidly running out of Medicaid funding. Millions of Americans will soon be on the edge of exhausting their unemployment benefits. The expansion of COBRA to provide more affordable health care benefits to the unemployed needs to be extended beyond the first of the year. The fiscal crisis in state and local governments is preventing them from contributing to the solution, and they are now a major part of the problem. The nation lost more jobs in state and local government than in manufacturing last month.
Adding still further to the already towering deficit is a difficult and painful task, but it is the necessary consequence of years of economic mismanagement, and it is an additional step that is necessary to get the country back on the road to recovery.
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