Last night, news media were reporting that they anticipated the jobless rate to rise slightly to 9.9%. At around the same time, it was announced that President Obama would today sign into law a bill that would: (1) extend unemployment benefit eligibility by up to an additional 20 weeks (meaning to a maximum of 99 weeks, if eligible- the maximum is for those 26 states where unemployment exceeds 8.5%); (2)extend and enhance the New Homebuyers Credit from November 30th until June 30th (This bill requires going into contract by April 30th and closing by June 30th). This bill will now NOT only provide first time buyers a tax credit of up to $8,000, but would extend to homeowners who've lived in their present home at least five of the last eight years (at a credit of up to $6,500); and (3) a modification of the law for businesses that have had losses to offset gains for more years back than the present law permits, thus hopefully freeing up cash flow for corporations.
Early this morning, the official joblessness rate was announced as a higher than anticipated 10.2%, the highest unemployment rate in 26 years. What is even more disconcerting is that this figure does not account for those no longer seeking employment, or working part-time, or in much lower positions. In addition, the average US worker's work-week is now averaging approximately 33 hours per week, one of the lowest averages in many years. One would therefore expect that the stock market would have a "correction" from yesterday's increase, and stock market indexes did indeed open sharply lower this morning.
What this means is that our political leaders need to seriously and immediately address the most urgent economic condition facing this nation today - - - unemployment and under- employment! While I believe the bill being signed today is both necessary and helpful, we now need to apply pressure on elected officials to use some "common sense solutions" to address both employment and other economic issues. Unfortunately, it is uncommon for political leaders to use "common sense." (Is a political leader using common sense an oxymoron?)
When I consult to a business, organization, or individual, I explore alternatives and explain all possible ramifications of actions or inactions. Isn't it about time our politicians did the same thing?
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