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Editorial September 12, 2013  RSS feed

EDITORIAL

All the talk and angst about whether or not the United States would enter the Syrian conflict may not have any effect on the outcome of their civil war—but it certainly took center stage and bumped the faltering job market right out of the box.

Job growth is not happening, as the figures for new jobs created in June, July and August were very disappointing. September projections regarding the nation’s job market are not very promising, either.

To add insult to injury, two prominent economists, Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty just announced that “the top 10 percent of earners took more than half of the country’s total income in 2012, the highest level recorded since the government began collecting the relevant data a century ago.”

According the Saez and Piketty, “the economy remains depressed for most wage-earning families. With sustained, relatively high rates of unemployment, businesses are under no pressure to raise their employees’ incomes because both workers and employers know that many people without jobs would be willing to work for less. The share of Americans working or looking for work is at its lowest in 35 years.”

These are the kinds of facts that spurred the Occupy Wall Street movement two years ago, but protesting alone hasn’t done anything since then to shift the nation’s fortunes.

Because of the bleak job market and stagnant wages, there’s no room for Americans to improve themselves. Those who are employed are fortunate to have what they have. This attitude could be best described by a line in the song “At the End of the Day” from the Broadway musical Les Miserables:

“There are children back at home/ and the children have got to be fed/ And you’re lucky to be in a job/ and in a bed/ And we’re counting our blessings.”

But this isn’t the slums of France in the 19th century; this is the state of the working class in the 21st century. This is the state of the U.S. 50-plus years after the post-war boom, when one could seemingly find another job just by walking into a business.

According to reports published in Crain’s, “the six largest employers in NYC are government entities, not private enterprises.” Almost 425,000 people depend upon the City of New York for their weekly paycheck through various government agencies and authorities. That’s almost half the entire workforce in New York City.

These figures are from 2011, but with a sliding scale of ups and downs in municipal hirings, retirements, cutbacks and the ebb and flow of the workforce, it still represents a substantial number of workers who depend on tax revenue for their salary.

We can't always rely on the government to provide jobs with good wages and benefits for the masses. As cities and states are confronted with massive amounts of debt with no real way to handle it other than by slashing jobs and benefits, we see the potential impact of such a dependance on government jobs.

After decades of neglecting the American economy and the American workforce, it is time for the private sector to up the ante and put some money back into our nation. Our leaders must support policies and laws to spur not only the creation of jobs, but also the payment of strong wages and benefits that can significantly improve the lives of the working class.

There is no greater way to cut public reliance on government— and no greater way to boost the American economy— than job creation. It’s time to take meaningful action toward achieving those goals.