Real US unemployment rate at 16 pct: Fed official

From Yahoo News

Wed Aug 26, 2:24 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The real US unemployment rate is 16 percent if persons who have dropped out of the labor pool and those working less than they would like are counted, a Federal Reserve official said Wednesday.

“If one considers the people who would like a job but have stopped looking — so-called discouraged workers — and those who are working fewer hours than they want, the unemployment rate would move from the official 9.4 percent to 16 percent, said Atlanta Fed chief Dennis Lockhart.

He underscored that he was expressing his own views, which did “do not necessarily reflect those of my colleagues on the Federal Open Market Committee,” the policy-setting body of the central bank.

Lockhart pointed out in a speech to a chamber of commerce in Chattanooga, Tennessee that those two categories of people are not taken into account in the Labor Department’s monthly report on the unemployment rate. The official July jobless rate was 9.4 percent.

Lockhart, who heads the Atlanta, Georgia, division of the Fed, is the first central bank official to acknowledge the depth of unemployment amid the worst US recession since the Great Depression.

Lockhart said the US economy was improving but “still fragile,” and the beginning stages of a sluggish recovery were underway.

“My forecast for a slow recovery implies a protracted period of high unemployment,” he said, adding that it would be difficult to stimulate jobs through additional public spending.

“Further fiscal stimulus has been mentioned, but the full effects of the first stimulus package are not yet clear, and the concern over adding to the federal deficit and the resulting national debt is warranted,” he said.

President Barack Obama’s administration has resisted calls for more public spending, arguing that the 787-billion-dollar stimulus passed in February needs time to work its way through the economy.

Lockhart noted that construction and manufacturing had been particularly hard hit in the recession that began in December 2007 and predicted some jobs were gone for good.

Prior to the recession, he said, construction and manufacturing combined accounted for slightly more than 15 percent of employment. But during the recession, their job losses made up more than 40 percent of all US job losses.

“In my view, it is unlikely that we will see a return of jobs lost in certain sectors, such as manufacturing,” he said.

“In a similar vein, the recession has been so deep in construction that a reallocation of workers is likely to happen — even if not permanent.”

Payroll employment has fallen by 6.7 million since the recession began.

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Health Reform Could Help ERA Ratification

From Women’s e-News

Run Date: 08/26/09
By Laura Callow
WeNews commentator Women’s Equality Day today commemorates U.S. women’s suffrage. It also marks the date the ERA was proposed in 1923. Laura Callow’s account of suffrage and ERA’s “invisible enemies” includes a look at today’s insurance lobby.

(WOMENSENEWS)–Today, August 26, women across the country will be celebrating Women’s Equality Day, the 89th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote.

It was a hard-won victory that took 72 years to achieve, so women everywhere should do their best to honor it.

This is also the 86th anniversary of the introduction of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment in 1923 by suffragist Alice Paul, who knew that suffrage ended only one of many forms of discrimination that women face.

The ERA was introduced into every Congress until it was finally approved in 1972 and sent to the states for ratification. However, Congress attached a seven year time-limit; one-seventh of the time it took to get it approved by Congress.

Opponents said this would keep the amendment “contemporaneous,” a confusing reference that has confounded the status of the ERA ever since. When the ratification process stalled at 35 states, Congress granted another three years and three months extending the time to June 1982. When that failed it appeared that ERA proponents would have to start-over.

But then came a rescue line, in 1992, when Congress approved the ratification of the Madison Amendment, first proposed in 1789, it was ratified by six states by 1800 and then lay dormant for almost 200 years before it was ratified.

Why Not the ERA?

ERA proponents asked, if an amendment like that–requiring Congress to stand for election before receiving a pay raise–could take so long, why can’t the ERA have more time?

Then with the backing of legal counsel, they decided the time limit on ERA ratification could be ignored for the following three reasons:

  1. The Constitution does not mention time limits for amendments.
  2. The ERA’s time limit is in the proposing clause ? not in the body of the amendment.
  3. Congress has already extended the time limit.

With this opinion, we embarked on a three-state strategy working for ratification in various unratified states.

Currently ratification efforts of varying degrees are ongoing in eight of 15 of those states.

Meanwhile a Start-over ERA has been reintroduced into every Congress since 1982 — most recently on July 21 of this year.

It’s such a long hard slog, we have to ask ourselves why.

Economic Historic

One answer: Powerful economic opposition, from the liquor industry prior to Prohibition to the current-day health insurance industry that fears losing its legal right to charge women higher premiums based solely on their gender.

The liquor lobby opposition began because many suffragists were also prohibitionists (social reformers who hated seeing families become impoverished by alcoholism).

The liquor industry at that time–fearing that enfranchised women would vote for prohibition–formed an anti-suffrage lobby that represented and was paid for by a levy on the brewers of beer, distillers of whiskey, and dealers who sold alcoholic beverages.

They formed alliances with manufacturing and railroad interests, each forming “mutual defense” alliances on special legislative problems. This was the early days, in other words, of what we now know as the big special-interest lobbies.

Carrie Chapman Catt, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, claimed that combinations of these interests worked with the Republican Party in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania; with the Democratic Party in Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska; and with both parties in Illinois, Missouri, Iowa and New York.

‘Invisible Enemy’

Chapman Catt referred to the opposition as the invisible enemy3.

Today, many in the ERA push see another invisible enemy in today’s heath insurance industry, which can still legally discriminate against women by charging us higher rates. (See yesterday’s article on this in Women’s eNews.)

At a hearing held by Senator John Kerry, representatives of the insurance industry promised to stop using gender as a basis for setting rates, but backtracked the following week.

However, most versions of Health Insurance reform–if not all–currently contain requirements to end this form of discrimination.

If this reform can be obtained, it will remove a significant source of anti-ERA funding. And this bodes well for the ERA.

Laura Callow has been advocating for women’s rights since 1969. She continues to work for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment because she firmly believes that sex discrimination should be just as unconstitutional as discrimination on account of race, religion or national origin.

Celebrating Women’s Equality Day

In the United States, today (August 26) is Women’s Equality Day, a celebration of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which guaranteed women  the right  to vote.

It is a mere 89 years since the ratification of that right to vote so it seems somewhat negative to point out at the time Emma Goldman dismissed the suffrage movement by saying the equivalent of, “If voting actually changed anything they would make it illegal.”

The march to equality is never finished.  It is like many things an ongoing struggle to erase many millennia of systematic oppression.  The struggle for women’s equality shares much in common with struggles against racism and classism as well as the struggle against anti-LGBT/T bigotry.

The struggle for women’s equality is a struggle against misogyny and male supremacy.  It is a struggle against institutions such as religion that serve mainly to prevent people from seeking justice within this life span.

It is a struggle against Corporate Capitalism that reduces women to demographics of consumer units to be marketed to and targeted as buyers of specialized and often times exploitatively over priced items.

It is a struggle against the Corporate marketing industry that sells us insecurity and creates fears by telling us to worry about things we had never thought to worry about.  This same marketing demands a rigid division of gender roles telling men they are superior because they will go out and indiscriminately murder the men, women and children of another nation in the name of patriotism but in actuality because these murders called war are in the interests of the rich owners of the corporations.

The struggle for equality is a struggle for equal liberation not for equal oppression or the ability to join the rich boys at the top of the ruling elites in the oppression of the people of the lower classes be they women or men.

Emma Goldman was right getting the vote did not solve much of anything, it merely marked a milestone in the struggle for liberation from the forces of oppression.

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