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7 Oct, 2011 06:00

American jobless: unemployed and uncounted

For Americans enduring rising unemployment and falling living standards, Capitol Hill seems out of touch. Thousands are joining demonstrations against poverty and corporate greed as the country struggles to deal with the ongoing economic crisis.

The anti-Wall Street protests that have grown in New York over the past few weeks are spreading to other major cities, including the capital.The rallying calls and optimism are a far cry from once-mighty cities which are now all-but-closed; their people on the poverty line.The US great recession began as a real estate crisis in 2007. Today, it has expanded into a national job emergency impossible to ignore.In a bid to create jobs, in September President Barack Obama unveiled the American Jobs Act, aiming at putting more people back to work and put more money in the pockets of working Americans. “The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: to put more people back to work,” explained the president upon presenting his plan in Washington on September 8.  According to the US government, 9.1 per cent of Americans are unemployed. Yet experts say deceptive measures and statistical shenanigans are being used to mask a jobless epidemic that is far worse.“They do not count part-time workers that are looking for full-time work and they also don’t count long-term unemployed people – people who have been unemployed for over six months,” David DeGraw, author of The Road Through 2012 told RT. “Maybe they’ve lost some faith and they’re not consistently looking for work.”“Back in time, those people would’ve been considered unemployed,” concurs Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital Inc. “But the government constantly changes the definition of who is unemployed and they do that so the unemployment number looks lower than it otherwise would've been. So the numbers over the years have been massaged so that the economy will appear to be in better shape than it is.”When part-time workers and those unemployed people who have given up hope are factored in, the real US unemployment rate increases to more than 16 per cent. A more telling, but often ignored, statistic provided by Bureau of Labor Statistics. “If they were included then the government would have to acknowledge that they truly have a major crisis on their hands and they have to do something,” DeGraw explains. “This is part of their propaganda campaign. It allows them to continue the status-quo until society starts completely breaking down.” Broken down and in ruins, the city of Detroit is feeling the full force of America’s economic decline. One in three residents live below the poverty line, half of the city’s public schools are closing and crime is skyrocketing.  The capital of the country’s motor industry now has an official unemployment rate of just under 30 per cent. But city officials and residents like Zenobia Jeffries, say the real figure is closer to 50.“How do you describe it? I think it’s indicative of what’s going on in the rest of the country. And they’re just now feeling it,” she told RT. To heal America’s economic suffering, experts say US leaders need to abandon exaggerated optimism for the ugly truth.“Unemployment is going to continue to get higher. Inflation is going to continue to get higher and rather than trying to pretend that the situation isn’t as bad as it is, we need to accept how bad it is,” Peter Schiff says. “Because then we have a better chance of recognizing the mistakes that we’re making. And that the policy is at fault and that more stimulus and more government regulation is not going to make the situation better.”US President Barack Obama has proposed a $447-billion plan to help resuscitate America’s workforce. Just like any life saving procedure, recovery can only take place after the depth of the crippling condition is fully understood.