Unemployment problems are worse than meet the eye

There are a lot of people out of work, which is the norm during a recession. There are almost no jobs available, which is a bit unusual during a recovery.

According to the The New York Times, a look at Labor Department statistics for the month of July revealed that "only 2.4 million full-time permanent jobs were open, with 14.5 million people officially unemployed." That's a six to one ratio -- the largest since they've tracked this stat. The immediate effect of the situation is obvious, but the longer term effects may not be. People will clearly be looking for work for a longer period than in previous recessions and the unemployment rate is almost certain to go over 10 percent, and may stay there for several quarters.

The stress that this problem will put on the federal, state, and local governments around the country will be immense. The first consequence of this major imbalance between jobs and the jobless is that federal and state governments will be providing an unemployment social safety net that they really cannot afford. Congress has already voted to extend unemployment benefits, further straining federal financial resources. But, many people who are out of work will run out of benefits early next year, further undermining consumer spending.

The other issue for government at all levels is that tax receipts will continue to stagnate at lower-then-expected levels, at least when compared to the federal Budget. IRS receipts may actually continue to drop, driving the deficit higher.

The recession may be over, but it may not be over for long.

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wal St.


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