Legislators Must Act to Stem the Tide of Layoffs
Hewlett-Packard (HP) recently announced it would be cutting 27,000 jobs by October 2014. The company has now joined the growing ranks of American firms slashing their labor forces to weather the recession. HP’s CEO, Meg Whitman, was the Republican nominee for governor of California in 2010. So her job-killing approach is SOP for the GOP.
And Friday’s jobs report painted a very dire picture of the national employment market. The American economy added only 69,000 positions in May. That’s half of what’s need just to keep up with population growth. And the overall unemployment rate, which is grossly inaccurate, increased to 8.2 percent.
In April, employers in the United States engaged in 1,388 layoff actions involving some 135,600 workers. That’s a nearly 9 percent increase over March.
Massive layoffs continue to devastate communities across the country. Companies are still cutting down on costs by letting people go. Paychecks are evaporating. Families are getting crushed.
In some industries, layoffs have been so widespread that the moment any new position sprouts up, it’s met with a huge number of resumes. For instance, a new Hyundai plant in Montgomery, Alabama recently announced it was looking to fill about 900 jobs. The plant received 20,000 applications.
GOP lawmakers aren’t doing anything to end this endless recession. The status quo isn’t acceptable. Yet, doing nothing until after November is their only solution. There’s much the government can do to hasten job growth.
Chiefly, officials should establish a 21st century version of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) — the grand social project that helped millions of Americans get back to work at the height of the Great Depression.
A modern WPA would hire under- and unemployed Americans to work on vital infrastructure projects, like rebuilding roads. People desperate for a paycheck would get one. And the government would be refurbishing key planks in the national economic framework, which in turn would empower private businesses to flourish in the future.
As today’s jobs report makes abundantly clear, the private sector alone isn’t creating jobs fast enough. The government must step in to bring down unemployment.
Following in FDR’s footsteps would help mitigate years of private sector downsizing. Standing on the sidelines while corporations continue to cut jobs just isn’t an option.