Eminently factual commentary by UMass Amherst Economics Professor Nancy Folbre (who's quickly becoming one of my favorite pundits on our economy), from Monday's NY Times' Economix blog (SEE: "The Plight of Generation Un"), and Ezra Klein, over at the WaPo Voices' blog on Wednesday (SEE: "The hollowing of the middle in one graph"), virtually eviscerates most of the "positive economic outlook" double-speak we're hearing from inside the Beltway these days.
The truth is that the cacaphony of American economic propaganda increases while the distance between economic fact on Main Street versus Wall Street and Beltway fiction widens by the day.
Even Austan Goolsbee, the chief economist for the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board and the chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors, knows that the nation's U.3 unemployment rate is actually a full percent or two higher than what he's spinning to the MSM every month. Then again, the Gallup Organization provides us with similar inconvenient truths on an ongoing basis, as well.
We hear talk of a "positive" economic outlook for our economy, but the truth is it's not our economy they're talking about. It's their economy; once you do a deeper dive and realize the government's numbers--and even our nation's G.D.P., itself--are myopically focused upon record corporate profits, and the "positive economic outlook" for the upper 10%-20% of our society during an ongoing, jobless recovery for the remaining 80%-90% of us.
Meanwhile, 10% of our population owns virtually all but a sliver of the marketable securities in this country while the housing market, which accounts for the single largest investment--by far and away--of the U.S. middle class, is still in a full-blown downward trajectory which has already surpassed the metrics of the Great Depression.
As Presidential advisor Elizabeth Warren noted in December 2009, it's the destruction of the U.S. middle class, and it's closer than you think.
But, that was in December 2009. It's 14 months later, and as noted in a couple of MSM blog posts over the past 72+ hours, the truth is that (for many) things are getting worse.
IMHO, when you combine the latest commentary from Klein and Folbre you end up with a front row seat to the absurdity of the pretzel logic propaganda that's being crammed down Main Street's throat as we blog.
Klein points out "the continuation--and perhaps the acceleration--of a multi-decade trend..."
The hollowing of the middle in one graph
By Ezra Klein
Posted at 3:17 PM ET, 02/16/2011
Washington Post Voices Blog
Gallup has new data out measuring the change in unemployment over the last year for workers with different levels of education. What you'll notice in the graph is that the number of jobs created has nothing to do with the number of jobs lost. Rather, it has to do with where the jobs were lost. Low-skill and high-skills jobs are coming back. The jobs in the middle aren't:
BAR GRAPH: The Hollowing of the Middle
Klein tells us this isn't exactly new information. It's a continuation of a "multi-decade trend" detailed by MIT economist David Autor in his recent paper (PDF):
The structure of job opportunities in the United States has sharply polarized over the past two decades, with expanding job opportunities in both high-skill, high-wage occupations and low-skill, low-wage occupations, coupled with contracting opportunities in middle-wage, middle-skill white-collar and blue-collar jobs. Concretely, employment and earnings are rising in both high education professional, technical, and managerial occupations and, since the late 1980s, in low-education food service, personal care, and protective service occupations. Conversely, job opportunities are declining in both middle-skill, white-collar clerical, administrative, and sales occupations and in middle-skill, blue-collar production, craft, and operative occupations.
As Klein notes: "Economies don't generally do well without a middle."
But, it's Professor Folbre's highly-annotated piece from Monday's Times which truly slams the door on the propaganda: "The Plight of Generation Un."
The Plight of Generation Un
By NANCY FOLBRE
New York Times
February 14, 2011
Nancy Folbre is an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Neither lofty rhetoric surrounding a new “http://chronicle.com/... competitiveness agenda]” nor bipartisan invocations of the importance of public investments in human capital can conceal the emerging reality.
Apart from the American Opportunity Tax Credit and modest increases in financial aid, public policy is not doing much to help young people from moderate- and low-income families who can’t find a job or afford the education they need to improve their chances of finding one.
When last reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in August, unemployment among those aged 16 to 24 was about 19 percent – unchanged from the previous year. Partly as a result, community college enrollments, already on an upward trend, have grown in the last two years. However, state budgets, already groaning under fiscal pressure, have been unable to provide additional support.
As a result, tuition and fees are increasing at community colleges, as well as at major universities, part of an intensifying trend toward privatization of higher education that I describe in more detail in “Saving State U.”
Folbre points out that, in many instances after students scrape up the funds to enroll in their local community colleges, they can't even get the classes they need. And, as states cut their budgets in coming months and years, this is only expected to get worse. She quotes the Wall Street Journal (see link earlier in this paragraph), which mentions the reality that local community colleges in California may have to turn away 350,000 students this year.
Another inconvenient truth noted by Folbre is that, with stricter welfare rules being implemented in states across the country in coming months, it's a virtually proven fact that lower college enrollment levels will be forced among that portion of the population that needs education and training most. The economics professor also provides quantitative analysis from no less than the National Bureau of Economic Research to support this truth.
Closing out her column on the Economix blog on Monday, Folbre cites BusinessWeek to underscore the severity of the situation confronting our "lost generation."
...Maybe we should dub them Generation Un, in recognition of those unable to find a job, unable to pay for college and unable to find the opportunities they need to help generate sustainable economic growth for the rest of us.
We Democrats like to talk about how 30 years of Reaganomics has driven our economy into a ditch; meanwhile, we ignore the mile-long, 12-foot wide pothole in the middle of our road to November 2012.