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Friday, November 26, 2010

Holiday Sales Point Up, But Is That Enough To Create Long-Term Jobs?

Black Friday shoppers negotiate a traffic jam in the aisles of Toys R Us in San Rafael, Calif. (AP)

Stores and malls were crowded overnight as consumers went out early for bargains. One analyst called it “a dog fight between retail companies” that are making a grab for shoppers’ holiday dollars before their money runs out. This is the first year since the recession hit that businesses are expecting sales to go up significantly, but will an uptick be enough to bring down long-term unemployment? We speak with Greg Ip, U.S. economics editor for the Economist Magazine. His new book is “The Little Book of Economics: How The Economy Works In The Real World.”

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  • Susan Bruce

    Given that the REAL unemployment numbers aren’t even being reported, this optimism is a load of codswallop. The official unemployment numbers only apply to those filing for unemployment benefits. The people who have reached the end of benefits (but have found no job) are not counted. The people who were never eligible for benefits at all are not counted. The real number of unemployed folks is more like 20%. The underemployed are not counted either – people who work 10 -20 hours a week, but can’t get a full time job, for example.

    The hugely ugly, largely unreported reality is that a person over the age of 50 who loses their job has a better chance of getting hit by lightening than finding work. Those people may never work again. How they (we, because I’m one of them) will manage until we can finally collect Social Security remains to be seen.

    I find the economic reporting of NPR unrealistic and disappointing. NPR seems to regard Wall St as THE economic barometer of the US economy – and NPR has done a nonexistant job of reporting on the realities of people’s lives. The fastest growing segment of the homeless population is middle aged women. I know a homeless guy in Las Vegas living in a residence hotel full of homeless, jobless middle aged people.

    It’s a shame that reality is being sanitized for our protection.

  • Thomas Davis

    Susan Bruce’s previous posting is 100% on point. George Ip is totally disconnected from the reality of what is happening with our economy – it is as if he were a publicist for the Obama Administration, not an analyst.

    First, the real (U6) unemployment rate is stuck at about 1 in 6 Americans. Think of that – it should be shocking. Similarly, that millions and millions of Americans are in foreclosure or facing foreclosure should be shocking. Job creation in October, 2010, was feeble compared to what is needed, both to make up losses since 1990 and to allow for population growth (+120,000 jobs/month to stay even). At that rate it would take over 20 years to get back where we were before the current economic meltdown began.

    Most important, Ip is willfully blind to the new economy, in which corporations and banks may prosper, but with very little job creation and trickle-down to citizens in this country. Nobody in official Washington wants to face up to that, both because they are personally prospering and because they don’t know what to do about it, where the many, many millions of good jobs are going to come from. Meanwhile continuous warfare grinds on as if there is no cost to the economy at all.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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