Friday, February 6, 2015

Gallup: The 5.6% Lie: Another Reason Greensboro Can't Wait

Recently Gallup Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton wrote:

  "The Big Lie: 5.6% Unemployment

Here’s something that many Americans -- including some of the smartest and most educated among us -- don’t know: The official unemployment rate, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, is extremely misleading.

Right now, we’re hearing much celebrating from the media, the White House and Wall Street about how unemployment is “down” to 5.6%. The cheerleading for this number is deafening. The media loves a comeback story, the White House wants to score political points and Wall Street would like you to stay in the market.

None of them will tell you this: If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job -- if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks -- the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed. That’s right. While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the news -- currently 5.6%. Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed. Trust me, the vast majority of them aren’t throwing parties to toast “falling” unemployment."

This is unusual because as a polling organization, Gallup usually just publishes the numbers and lets the politicians and pundits make with them what they want but this time the main man in charge of a multinational corporation went so far as to call the government a liar.

Of course a lot of us have been echoing for years what Mr Clifton finally got the nerve to say and in Cities like Greensboro, North Carolina where the poverty rate is 21%, unemployment leads the state and our city is rated the second hungriest in the nation these problems are especially acute.

Almost daily we are hearing of store closings and failures in the retail sector and yet the economic development strategy of our leaders hasn't changed-- they still focus on service sector jobs and real estate, the very parts of the economy that are being hit the hardest. They talk about opening new shopping centers while they can't keep the shopping centers we have filled.

Washington and Wall Street have proven they are not coming to our aid. Raleigh is still cutting expenses. It's time the Greensboro City Council developed a real economic development plan. It's time our City Council devised a means to help us do it for ourselves-- not a hand out, a hand up. I've proposed numerous ways, Council has acted on none of them nor have they proposed any of their own ideas.

And to those few long time readers who think I'm sounding like a broken record: You're right, I've been harping on this very thing for 4 years now and just as I've predicted time and time again things have only gotten worse for Greensboro. Maybe the broken record is downtown.