Press-Republican

Columns

April 29, 2012

Little outrage heard from unemployed

The most recent data on the economy and jobs indicate two things.

The first is that the economy produced fewer jobs than it had in the previous two months, only about half of what some economists predicted. The second is that the national unemployment rate dropped slightly because more people have simply given up looking for work.

The bottom line is that 12 million people are still unemployed.

Economic recovery, you say? Who knows? The data is too confusing and convoluted to be a reliable indicator of how the economy is really doing. Like the Bible, you can find whatever data you need to support whatever position you have on the recession and the recovery.

I've been writing about the workforce for some time now and working in the field for much longer. I'm surprised by very little, certainly not the lack of innovative solutions.

I'll tell you what does surprise me, though.

What does surprise me is that 12 million people are unemployed, yet nowhere do I sense outrage or anger. Not from politicians, not from students and certainly not from the unemployed.

How can 12 million Americans be unemployed, many for a record number of months, and there be no physical manifestation of that outrage?

Maybe it's because I'm a product of the Vietnam era where people took to the streets to protest any manner of injustice — perceived or real.

Back in the day, people acted when they were outraged, often violently.

During the Great Depression, there were as many picket lines as there were bread lines and there was often violence in both.

In the 1960s and '70s, thousands of people would converge on Washington or on college campuses to protest the war, to fight for civil rights or to protest the fundamental values of American society. Amazingly, they somehow managed to organize these protests in spite of not having Twitter, Facebook or cellphones.

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