Greece is on life support. Spain is ailing. Britain is far from well.

But the really sick patient in the global emergency ward isn’t in Europe. The most serious case of infectious economic disease is suffering in the heartland of global capitalism, and the prognosis is pretty grim:

“More than 15 million Americans are out of work, and nearly half have been jobless for six months or longer. New college graduates are having a terrible time finding work, and many are taking jobs that require only a high school education. Teachers are facing the worst employment market since the Depression…

“It’s impossible to overstate the threat that this crisis of unemployment poses to the well-being of the United States. With so many people out of work and so much of the rest of the population deeply in debt, where is the spending going to come from to power a true economic recovery? The deficit hawks are forecasting Armageddon, but how is anyone going to get a handle on the federal deficits if we don’t get millions of people back to work and paying taxes?

“Some inner-city neighborhoods, where joblessness is off the charts, are becoming islands of despair. Rural communities and rust belt cities and towns are experiencing their own economic nightmares.”

That’s how columnist Bob Herbert described the US jobless malaise in yesterday’s New York Times.

Europe may be going through a serious contagion built around unmanageable deficits, but the real sick man of the world economy is American and he’s out of work.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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