In January 2009 I said this in one of my earliest diaries here, Postcard From Muskegon...two years ago.
Muskegon was [cited in December 2008] by the United States Census Bureau as the city with the highest unemployment in America from 2005 to 2007, with unemployment at 22.1%. The US Department of Labor puts the number closer to 10%
Want to know what things are probably going to be like in America for the next couple years? I welcome you to Muskegon.
When I planned to move back my father warned me "Don't move back here. There are no jobs here."
"We don't need good jobs right off." I said "We'll take anything for now and get better jobs later."
Somehow my time in Iowa had made me forget what was meant by "No Jobs." It doesn't mean "No DECENT WAGE Jobs." It means no jobs at all. None. They're all taken and people who have them cling to them for dear life. Grocery bagger, stock clerk, waitress, even newspaper delivery...all taken. And forget about programming jobs or marketing jobs. There are No Jobs. No high pay jobs, no low pay jobs. When a job opens, the company receives hundreds of applications, and if you don't come referred by somebody who works there just forget it. Once the unemployment rate hits 8%, this is what you start to see.
Ten years, folks.
That's how long Michigan's economy has been shedding jobs, pretty much continuously: before unemployment benefit extensions, before Obama, before health insurance reform, before COBRA subsidies, S-chip expansions, food stamp expansions, lowered thresholds for daycare subsidies, before anybody really gave two shits about saving manufacturing or GM or that Michigan was in free fall FOR TEN FUCKING YEARS!!!!
Muskegon, July 2003...10.3% unemployment.
So, like, extrapolate America NOW from Muskegon or the ten million residents of Michigan SEVEN YEARS AGO.
Suddenly TWO YEARS of massive recession takes some perspective, eh?
This isn't going to be over any time soon. It doesn't matter if it's Obama at the helm or Granholm at the helm or Mother Theresa or Ghandi or Howard Dean, or Kucinich
Settle in because we're in this for a LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLONG FFFFFFFFFUCKING TIME.
You know that feeling you have when you're wondering how long this can go on and you wonder where the end is?
This is just the beginning.
If I seem a little irritated and pissy it's cuz I'd been occasionally happy that, like, for the first time IN A FUCKING DECADE the newspapers weren't plastered with plant closings, hundreds laid off here, hundreds laid off there, hundreds laid off next month, hundreds laid off the month after that, and after that, and after that and after that and after that and after that and after that FOR TEN FUCKING YEARS.
You have to go back to January 1997 to see employment levels in Michigan at the levels they are here today.
But holy shit! Now papers are talking about....hiring?!?!? AT ALL?
I LIKE our president.
I LIKE HIM.
He's the FIRST ONE to give a SHIT about this state in TEN FFFFFFFFFFFFFUCKING YEARS. And I've spent the past few months watching people tear the man down.
It was 2004 when we had our first child and had to resort to state aid, two college educated folks one with a higher degree, to pay for that little guy's delivery because there WERE NO JOBS, and none offering health insurance. That was over SIX YEARS AGO.
My heart bleeds excruciatingly for the folk out there who can't find work. Who have NO IDEA how they're going to get by or feed their family or stay in their home. Who are wondering how long this is going to go on. Who are watching their appliances and homes and automobiles systematically break down one after another over the months. Who watch their children or their pets or their own bodies develop ailments and you hold off and hold off and hold off because you don't have the money to go to a doctor JUST IN CASE.
And I really hate to say it doesn't stop.
But it DOES NOT STOP.
It just goes on. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year, after year, after year, after year, after year, after year.
Has my life gotten financially easier since I wrote that diary two years ago?
Other than the earned income tax credit?
Look, I'm sort of in rant mode right now, so I'm not making much sense........
....but we are, in fact, in this for the long haul. Nothing is going to change that. NOTHING.
I watched Governor Granholm go around the world, literally going from country to country, business to business, personally trying to lure businesses to Michigan. PERSONALLY trying to sell Michigan as a place to do business and hire people: 200 people, 50 people, 100 people. ANYTHING!
No POLICY in the world would have made up for the near 1 million jobs lost in a state of ten million residents...and the whole time Republicans were at her heels attacking any attempt she made at trying to ease the suffering of those without jobs, or attempts she made to try to bring Michigan's education level up to speed.
She pressed on for eight years, working her butt off to try to save this state, diversify the economy, bring new industry in imports here. But it couldn't change the system overnight. Not even over an eight year period. It took EIGHT YEARS to JUST STOP THE BLEEDING.
Obama reminded me of Granholm when he made the trip to India to sell American commercial airplanes. To help close a 2.3 billion dollar deal for an American company that would hire American workers.
I don't think most Americans really realize how fucked we really are. How LONG TERM this situation really is.
Frankly, if my advice were worth a damn, I'd suggest folks forget about finding a job and strike out on their own. Find something folks are willing to give you money for and do it. Nobody is going to provide a job. Jobs don't exist. And they won't for a long fucking time. They're gone. Jobs...GONE. Not coming back in the foreseeable future. And who fucking cares anyway, you can't trust those bastards.
I've ranted almost enough.
This isn't a fast fix. We are in this for a DECADE or more.
Seriously. Settle in. You're at the beginning. And maybe be thankful there's somebody at the helm right now that even remotely gives a shit.