The economic picture went from bad to worse as the pace of U.S. hiring slowed in May, with a meager 54,000 jobs added. The slowdown comes after several months of strong job growth and guarded optimism that the U.S. economy was starting to slowly recover.
Meanwhile, McDonalds appeared to be the only bright spot for American workers, hiring 62,000 McWorkers, a number captured in the jobs report. Without that surge in hiring for unskilled, low wage jobs, the United States would have actually lost jobs.
It is also important to keep in mind the impact of the anti-government fever ravaging state and local governments (and the conservative wing of national Republicans). While the private sector added a total of 84,000 workers in May, local governments cut 28,000 jobs, 18,000 of those from education alone. Government cut-backs means job losses, plain and simple.
It also means this country, at both the national and the state level, is laying the foundation for a less-educated, less-skilled workplace for the majority of its citizenry. Add in the drastic cuts, or outright elimination of much of our social safety net and the vision of this country that emerges is nothing short of Dickensian.
There’s simply no delicate way to put this. American workers are on the brink here. Gas and food prices continue to rise and the housing market remains stagnant. Workers wages are flat while productivity has increased and corporations sit on large cash reserves and keep executive pay astronomical. Any hope that this country is the place where individuals, through hard work and persistence can transcend class barriers has long since passed. There’s a boot on the neck of the American middle class and no-one in Washington seems much to care.
photo courtesy of Franco Folini via Flickr