Marxism explains long-term jobless growth

By Fred Goldstein on March 28, 2014

unemployed-US graph

Number of people in the U.S. unemployed six months or more

Five years into the capitalist recovery, the crisis of mass, long-term unemployment will not go away.

The Labor Department defines long-term unemployment as being 27 weeks or longer without a job. The official number of long-term unemployed in February was 3.8 million workers. (Los Angeles Times, March 20)

The Origins of the “Right-to-Work” Union-Busting Law

By Fred Goldstein

December 17, 2012

The passage of the union-busting so-called “right-to-work” law in Michigan is a severe legal setback for the labor movement and for the workers, the oppressed and all the progressive masses in the state. If not turned around, it will encourage right-wing, anti-labor forces across the country.

It must be emphasized at the outset that so far this is purely a legislative setback. It has not been implemented. The working class has not been defeated in the class struggle but rather the labor leadership was politically outmaneuvered by a cabal of right-wing billionaires and their political puppets in the legislature and the governor’s mansion. These forces conspired to put this reactionary legislation on the fast track without even giving the legally required time and processes for the masses to mobilize against it.

Slowdown, unemployment plague world capitalism

By Fred Goldstein, published April 16, 2015

The finance ministers of the largest capitalist economies exuded gloom and pessimism at the recent Washington meeting of the G-20. “Six years after tackling the global financial crisis, the world’s top economic policy makers are struggling to exit crisis-management mode and lift growth out of a long-term funk,” wrote the Wall Street Journal on April 19.

The underlying concern was that since the so-called “recovery” began in 2009, the global economy has been in a steady state of slow growth and stagnation.

The International Monetary Fund issued warnings about so-called “emerging markets.” China had its slowest growth in 10 years. Russia is in a recession. Brazil’s growth has slowed to a crawl. Investors are starting to pull their money out of many countries.

Automation threatens 47 percent of U.S. jobs

By Fred Goldstein on April 17, 2014

A wakeup call for labor movement and working class

Two scholars at Oxford University have made an exhaustive study of 702 U.S. occupations and new techniques in automation. They concluded that 47 percent of existing jobs are at high risk of being automated in the next decade or so.

The authors, Carl Benedikt Fey and Michael Osborne, studied machine learning (ML) and mobile robotics (MR), the latest developments in automation that have enabled robots to handle complex, nonroutine tasks. The study, entitled “The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerization?” showed trends flow­ing from what has already been done to jobs in order to project present and future possibilities. (Oxford Martin School, Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology)

Marxism and long-term unemployment

By Fred Goldstein on April 5, 2014

A study published by Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute in January compiled figures on unemployment that have important significance for the working class and for a Marxist analysis of the present dead-end crisis of capitalism.

The figures in the study confirm that the bosses’ need for labor power at all skill levels and in all occupations drastically declined between 2007 and the year ending July 2013. This is further confirmation of Marx’s general law of capitalist accumulation discussed in our last column.

Shierholz was rightly trying to refute the widespread campaign by the publicists for the bosses about how unemployment is caused by a “skills mismatch” — workers not having the right skills or enough skills to get all those jobs out there that are going begging.

The study, “Is There Really a Shortage of Skilled Workers?” thoroughly refutes the “skills shortage” argument. (epi.org, Jan. 23)