What, you haven’t noticed? Maybe that’s because you’re not rich. After all, in the wake of the Great Recession, “95 percent of the gains from economic recovery since 2009 have gone to the famous 1 percent.”
Or maybe you or a loved one is among the 21 million Americans still looking for full-time work. As Forbes magazine recently reported, if you add all of the number of people working part-time who want full-time jobs to the number who don’t have a job, the underemployment/unemployment rate equals 14.3%. Such a shocking number should signal to all of us that something needs to be done.
What can be done? Well, state leaders have happily laid off thousands of hard-working public-sector employees so they can give big paychecks to their fundraisers, friends, and campaign supporters. So let’s look instead to the federal government.
Congress could create a New Deal program for the 21st century – like the New Deal that built the American middle class in the first place – and put people to work repairing our infrastructure and educating our children… But that’s unlikely to happen.
Then there’s the Federal Reserve.
On Wednesday, September 18, the Federal Reserve announced it will not cut back on its quantitative easing program. Over the past five years, the Fed has pumped $3 trillion into banks in hopes that they would generate more loans and stimulate economic activity. (The jury’s still out on whether or not the program has been effective.) The Fed had planned to taper off the program, but concern that the threat of another budget battle in Washington “is restraining economic growth” convinced committee members to stay the course.
Will the Fed’s decision to continue the quantitative easing program affect you if you are unemployed, underemployed, or just a typical worker struggling to support your family? Nobody knows for certain.
And, unfortunately, the programs that history shows us do work to relieve unemployment and strengthen the middle class are off the table in Congress and in Raleigh.