Recession Over for US Firms, Not Workers

US jobless rate higher than competitors despite soaring profits
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 19, 2011 6:49 AM CST
Frank Wallace, who has been unemployed since May of 2009, holds a sign during a rally organized by the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, in Philadelphia.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

(Newser) – The US recession is over—at least, for businesses. US workers are still mired in it. Unlike its economic competitors, America's profits have bounced back to above 2007 levels, but the unemployment rate is higher than in Britain or Russia and much higher than in Germany, Japan, or China, notes David Leonhardt at the New York Times. Economists are split on the causes, but an obvious one appears to be American workers' loss of power, he notes.

American employers operate with relatively few restraints and unions have withered, Leonhardt notes, leaving companies free to discard workers when profits slump and rely on remaining staff or temporary workers when business picks up. High unemployment will be here for a long time to come, but "there is no reason to treat it as a problem that’s immune from solutions," he concludes. "For starters, it would be worth figuring out what other countries are doing right." One example he points to is Germany's job-sharing program, which averts layoffs by cutting everyone's hours.

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