Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Obama's Retraining Jive

There is a disconnect between how our Accountability Elites see the unemployment problem and how it really is.

Atrios hits on that this morning - the elites are blaming the unemployed for their unemployment:

Learn Something Useful, Losers

The worst part of Timmeh's piece:

We have a long way to go to address the fiscal trauma and damage across the country, and we will need to monitor the ups and downs in the economy month by month. The share of workers who have been unemployed for six months or more is at its highest level since 1948, when the data was first recorded, and we must do more to ensure that they have the skills they need to re-enter the 21st-century economy. Small businesses are still battling a tough climate. State and local governments are still hurting. [my emphasis]

The sentence that should have been written is:

The share of workers who have been unemployed for six months or more is at its highest level since 1948, when the data was first recorded, and we must do more to ensure that they have jobs.

But obviously that's not what they're thinking. Unemployment is a skills mismatch problem, unemployed losers don't "have the skills they need to re-enter the 21st-century economy."

We're screwed.

Indeed we are screwed.

The problem is that corporations are squeezing profits through "productivity gains" (i.e., making still employed people work longer and harder for less), laying people off, outsourcing jobs to Sri Lanka and otherwise not re-investing money back in the economy in order to put people back to work.

It wouldn't matter if all the people currently unemployed went back to school and got the "skills" Timmeh Geithner and President Accountability claim they need to get work.

They STILL wouldn't have jobs.

You know why?


Even if people retrain:

In what was beginning to feel like a previous life, Israel Valle had earned $18 an hour as an executive assistant to a designer at a prominent fashion label. Now, he was jobless and struggling to find work. He decided to invest in upgrading his skills.

It was February 2009, and the city work force center in Downtown Brooklyn was jammed with hundreds of people hungry for paychecks. His caseworker urged him to take advantage of classes financed by the federal government, which had increased money for job training. Upgrade your skills, she counseled. Then she could arrange job interviews.

For six weeks, Mr. Valle, 49, absorbed instruction in spreadsheets and word processing. He tinkered with his résumé. But the interviews his caseworker eventually arranged were for low-wage jobs, and they were mobbed by desperate applicants. More than a year later, Mr. Valle remains among the record 6.8 million Americans who have been officially jobless for six months or longer. He recently applied for welfare benefits.

“Training was fruitless,” he said. “I’m not seeing the benefits. Training for what? No one’s hiring.”

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have enrolled in federally financed training programs in recent years, only to remain out of work. That has intensified skepticism about training as a cure for unemployment.

Even before the recession created the bleakest job market in more than a quarter-century, job training was already producing disappointing results. A study conducted for the Labor Department tracking the experience of 160,000 laid-off workers in 12 states from mid-2003 to mid-2005 — a time of economic expansion — found that those who went through training wound up earning little more than those who did not, even three and four years later. “Over all, it appears possible that ultimate gains from participation are small or nonexistent,” the study concluded.

In the last 18 months, the Obama administration has embraced more promising approaches to training focused on faster-growing areas like renewable energy and health care. But most money has been directed at the same sorts of programs that in past years have largely failed to steer laid-off workers toward new careers, say experts, and now the number of job openings is vastly outnumbered by people out of work.

“It’s such an ugly situation that job training can’t solve it,” said Ross Eisenbrey, a job training expert at the Economic Policy Institute, a labor-oriented research institution in Washington, and a former commissioner of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. “When you have five people unemployed for every vacancy, you can train all the people you want and unfortunately only one-fifth of the people will get hired. Training doesn’t create jobs.”

Our Accountability Elites are blaming the public education system for not providing workers with the "right skill sets" to work 21st century jobs, but even when they go back to school to get those skill sets, they're STILL not getting hired.

And while some of that schooling is subsidized, lots of it isn't - which means more money for our for-profit friends in the education management organizations like Kaplan and University of Phoenix.

It's win-win for the Accountability Elites like Obama.

Divert attentions from their own failures to create an equitable economy that serves more than just Wall Street and the hedge fundies, bust the teachers unions and scapegoat teachers and public schools as the problem for the supposed "lack of skills" workers are "suffering" from, put those workers into retraining programs that make lots of money for the hedge fundies and other EMO cronies, and STILL not hire those people after it is all said and done.

Then blame the unemployed for their unemployment. They're lazy, stupid, blah, blah, blah...

Atrios is right - we are screwed.

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