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POLITICS

AFL-CIO’s Trumka: “Things are grim for young workers”

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins

Richard Trumka, president of the AFl-CIO, makes the case against cutting the debt and deficit in an op-ed in the Hill this morning. In making the case, he paints a grimmer picture of the economy than the White House has to date:

Our economy is slowly rebounding from its collapse in 2008, and jobs have now been growing steadily for 28 straight months. But our economy is still far from healthy.

Things are grim for young workers: 18- and 19-year-olds have largely dropped out of the labor market, with fewer than half showing up in the monthly unemployment numbers. Among 20- to 24-year-olds, labor force participation is back only to 1972 levels. Things aren’t much better for 25- to 29-year-olds, with 1 in 4 out of work.

We are experiencing a whole generation of high unemployment, and young people who expected more for their hard work are deferring their dreams and opportunities.

This current generation is not building the employment histories and the work experience it needs to succeed. It will be the least experienced generation since we started tracking experience in 1948.

In the face of high unemployment and slow growth, out-of-touch Republicans are throwing tantrums and threatening to harm our economy through a series of manufactured crises. What are the demands of these hostage-takers? They want Democrats to agree to cut Social Security and Medicaid and Medicare benefits, cutting the safety net out from under middle-class families who have borne the brunt of decades of slow growth and diminished opportunities.

This doesn’t even begin to touch on the harmful effects of sequestration, which is just a fancy word for a dumb idea. These across-the-board cuts will cost 750,000 jobs — local defense facilities won’t be staffed, moms and dads will have less money to spend, national parks will be closed and 3- and 4-year-old children summarily cut off Head Start rolls.

Sequestration isn’t the first blow; it’s just another in a series of disastrous policies that have us working against ourselves. Even the conservative Wall Street Journal noted that sharp cuts to state and local government spending kept unemployment high in the wake of the economy’s collapse.

Read the whole column here. Earlier this month, Trumka hosted a discussion with New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who made essentially the same argument.

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