COMMENT Bob Weaver

The report made headlines - less than half of West Virginians are in the workforce, the worst state in the USA.

Jarred Hunt, Charleston Daily Mail reporter, gave a more accurate account of the startling news in Monday's Charleston Daily Mail, including the formula used for calculating employment.

The fact is that West Virgina has held that record for the least employed since 1976.

The GOP leadership in Charleston is saying jobs will be their number one priority.

Right wing politicos blame the unemployment problem on laziness, Mitt Romney's "takers."

There are plenty of takers, but I'm reminded of real people with real work genes, including my own blue-collar parents, if alive today and living in Calhoun, would likely be out of luck to find employment.

Several years ago, we stopped the monthly labor report which lists the counties in West Virginia with the highest and lowest employment rates, a formula that was devised well over 50 years ago.

The unemployment formula is based on who is currently receiving unemployment benefits. When benefits run out, that person falls off the radar.

Unemployment as presented by politicos and the media is rarely linked to globalization, which accounts for about 25% of vanished jobs in the USA, causing 36 million American workers to either not have a job or have a job at grossly reduced wages and benefits.

The US Congress, lobbied by American and multi-national corporations, and virtually all the presidents in modern times, have sold globalization as tasty cream cheese.

Now, even the most right wing economists mostly agree that globalization plays a major role in the loss of American manufacturing jobs and, more broadly, the stagnation of U.S. wages and incomes for nearly three decades.

Washington and state houses pretend it ain't so.

In West Virginia, thousands of manufacturing jobs left the state. Right-wing politicians said it was because of pricy union wages and that globalization would provide trickle-down jobs to working stiffs, often citing high tech jobs which America created.

West Virginia's biggest employer was steel manufacturing.

Gone, replaced by WalMart.

If pricy union wages were the big problem, the baby got thrown out with the bathwater.

In rural, poor West Virginia counties even the low wage jobs have been globalized to countries that pay a pittance, often using child labor, and having no benefits.

In our region, the globalized list is long, from Goodrich to Kellwood to shoes, tools and garments.

Now, state politicians fight over how bad Obama's "War on Coal" is to the Mountain State, the industry, because of market decline and mechanization, is now hiring around 15,000 miners.

The war is now focused only on the EPA and Obama, over clean water and fossil fuel emission rules.

Now, President Obama is pushing for yet another globalization initiative, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. His administration is negotiating with 11 Pacific Rim nations and for fast-track legislation.

Few remember presidential candidate Ross Perot's famous quote against the approval of the North American Free Trade Act, calling it "A giant sucking sound."

Republicans keep ignoring the plight of the so-called American Middle Class, and Democrats continue to rail about it, while most have been on board with globalization and "trickle down."

Two out of three displaced manufacturing workers who got new jobs between 2009 and 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, experienced wage reductions most of them greater than 20 percent.

See Jared Hunt column: Jobs ranking a long-term problem - Charleston Daily Mail

READ FIRST STORY PUBLISHED ON HUR HERALD: HERALD 1999: "The Biggest Story In America" - The Widening Gap, Death Of Middle Class


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