Double-dips, recessions and recoveries

Double-dips, recessions and recoveries

It’s the phrase of the week: “double-dip recession.” A search for those three terms at Google News earlier this afternoon returned 8,150 results. “Auto stocks plummet on double-dip recession fears” went a recent headline in USA Today. “Time to Say It: Double Dip Recession May Be HappeningThe New York Times titled a post at its site. “US double dip?” asked the BBC.

One analyst The Chicago Reporter recently spoke with said such language carries little weight for millions of people for whom the tepid economic recovery from the first recession meant little.

“The question is not double-dip or not. It’s what happens when you have a sustained downturn in the economy. Regardless of double-dip or not, the economy is doing poorly,” said Steven Pitts, a labor studies professor at the University of California-Berkeley. “The fixation over a double-dip recession, I think it’s misplaced.”

Officially, the Great Recession lasted about 18 months, from December 2007 until June 2009, according to the the National Bureau of Economic Research’s pronouncement.

It’s not hard to find evidence, anecdotal and statistical, of what Pitts called the “anemic” recovery from that downturn. People are crowding job fairs in Chicago, desperate for work, and demanding help at State of Illinois legislative hearings.

The much-touted recovery period, simply put, failed produce anywhere near the amount of jobs needed to drive down the unemployment rate to pre-Great Recession levels–the nationwide rate remains at 9.1 percent today, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics July data.

As a consequence, more people are struggling to get by. Nearly 46 million Americans are using food stamps, a 34 percent jump since 2009. And the net wealth in black and Latino households has been staggered, losing more than half its value in recent years.

It is not at all clear at the moment how a more robust recovery–from the first Great Recession or, whether it officially happens or not, the second–will be sparked.

Some politicians want the federal government to roll out a jobs program that would directly employ people. The liberal Democratic 9th District Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, for example, is talking up creating a new series of “corps” that would hire people, particularly the long-term unemployed, to carry out a range of public projects.

At a press conference this morning outside of Goudy Elementary School on the North Side, the congresswoman said she would introduce legislation creating the School Improvement Corps, the Park Improvement Corps, Health Corps and several others to put 2.2 million back to work.

The program would cost $227 billion, Schakowsky said, money that could be found through creating higher tax brackets for the wealthy and eliminating various tax loop holes.

There is little to no political support among House Republicans, who control a majority in that chamber, for tax increases to pay for such an effort–let alone to drive down the federal deficit. Schakowsky was asked about that political reality this morning. Her answer, in part, was that everyday Americans must demand such legislation. Take a look:

What do you think of Schakowsky idea? Should the federal government roll out a program to directly employ the unemployed? Tell us you thoughts in the comment section below.

© Community Renewal Society 2011

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  • The simple answer is that Jan needed a publicity stunt and got you to bite (or byte).

    Word I heard is that she does nothing to help people who are unemployed and reside in her district. However, you can't Google that.

    In any event, so long as Governor Ectoplasm keeps driving jobs out of the state through his tax and economic policies, Jan seems to be following the same path as he--if we hire enough government workers, and they pay income taxes, all of this is supposedly self-supporting. Sure.

    In the meantime, Jan knows that this is dying in committee, but can send out a flyer that she sponsored at least 5 and probably 10 bills.

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