November unemployment numbers released on Dec. 2 indicated a decrease in joblessness from 9 percent to 8.6 percent. Most U.S. media treated that decline as good news, but behind the statistics is a less encouraging reality. The net employment gain in November was 120,000: 140,000 jobs gained in the private sector offset by 20,000 jobs lost in the public sector, as local, state and federal governments continue to shed workers. That “growth” was barely enough to keep up with new workers entering the job market. Worse news was that 315,000 people dropped out of the workforce entirely. These are unemployed people so discouraged that they have stopped looking for work and have become ineligible for unemployment insurance assistance. Network, a Catholic lobby, argues that real improvement in the U.S. job market will require a more determined government response, since the U.S. private sector cannot absorb all those who are unemployed. Repairing crumbling infrastructure and hiring more teachers are just two ways the federal government could intervene to spur job growth.
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