Just a short few days ago we were being told that the American economy had 'turned a corner' and was now in 'recovery'.

The basis for this 'good news' story was that the United States gross domestic product (GDP) grew 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2009.

But the latest unemployment figures demonstrate again just what lies at the centre of this so-called 'recovery'.

The official unemployment rate rose by 0.4 percent to 10.2 percent in October.

And the unemployment rate doesn't include people without jobs who have stopped looking, or those who have settled for part-time jobs. Counting those people, the unemployment rate would be 17.5 percent.

TVNZ business reporter Corin Dann, always keen to downplay any news that doesn't reflect well on the free market, told us this morning that the rise in US unemployment had 'slowed'.

He is clearly making it up as he goes along because the 0.4 pet rise was far higher than what had been expected by economists. They had expected 0.1 percent and some 175,000 additional job losses. The real figure was approximately 558,000 job losses. This is not evidence that the rate of unemployment is slowing.

Corin Dann may also like to note that on the back of these figures, economists have now revised upwards their estimates for unemployment next year.

This is only the second time official unemployment in the United States has reached double digits since the end of World War II. It is the highest level since 1983.

What our mainstream media didn't report is that a second survey,released a day before the new unemployment figures came out, show that American workers are getting paid less for doing more work.

The US Labour Department figures showed that productivity had increased by 9.5 percent in the third quarter of this year.

Over the past six months productivity has increased at the highest rate since 1961.

The sharp rise in productivity is due to the fact that workers are being forced to do more for less. Many employers are laying off part of their workforce and simply making those who still retain a job do the work of those made redundant.

Of course, the increase in unemployment has put pressure on wage rates which have been declining throughout the year.

If we look beyond the federal figures an even more grimmer picture emerges of just how the crisis of capitalism has been dumped on the shoulders of ordinary people - while the corporate sector has received the handouts from the Obama administration.

The noted economist Richard Wolff has wrote on the devastating policies being implemented within various states. These include

27 states have reduced health benefits for low-income children and families;
25 states are cutting aid to K-12 schools and other educational programs;
34 states have cut assistance to state colleges and universities;
26 states have instituted hiring freezes;
13 states have announced layoffs; and
22 states have reduced state workers' wages.

He comments that state budgets will worsen further in the coming years which will mean more cuts in services, more redundancies, more wage cuts.

Writes Wolff:

'Just when the mass of Americans need more help and support from their state governments, our economic system provides them with less. This raises the human and fiscal costs of the crisis. '

He goes on to say:

'If the states represent a fiscal train wreck, then the nation's cities and towns represent another train not far behind and hurtling toward the wreck.'


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