Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Tuesday, July 22, 2003  

NPR reported this morning that teen unemployment has risen to 20% (double that for black teens). It's a fairly innocuous finding, but it's one of those little signals that the Bush "recovery" isn't your recovery. The stock markets are up again, and company profits seem to finally be turning around. That's the good news, except that it pretty much only affects the bank accounts of the already-wealthy. The bad news is that there are two economies--those of the rich and those of the poor (or not-rich, as no one likes thinking of themselves as "poor")--and nobody at AOLTimeWarner is bothering to cover the economy of the not-rich.

For those struggling to get by, the teen unemployment figure is a far more telling statistic. Why are teens unemployed? Because adults are having to work at Micky Dee's to support the family (probably at night, after they've gotten off their first job). The stock market may improve, and company profits may be up, but after the brutal three-year slump, do you think companies are about to start taking on debt again? No way. That's why it'll be years before their health results in jobs.

Meanwhile, the Bush deficits will drive interest rates up--and with them mortgage and credit card rates. Rent will climb. Even for those people who still have jobs, effective incomes will drop in the sea of red ink. You'll still hear reports of the stock market's health, but it won't affect the majority of Americans--not for a long time, anyway.

Teen employment is like a canary in the economic coal mine. Hold your breath.

posted by Jeff | 9:19 AM |
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