... and that figure may be higher because of unemployment benefits running out.Credit card companies will be left holding the bag on many of these cc users' outstanding balances (and there might be a little more than a few in that number)We who are still gainfully employed would do well to hedge our bets and kill the cards.Donnahttp://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/29/opinion/29HERB.htmlFrom the New York Times:The jobs squeeze has other effects. "There's been this notion along the way that if you at least kept your job, you'd be O.K.," said Jared Bernstein, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. "But now this persistent unemployment is taking a toll on the wages of those who are still working."Wages, when adjusted for inflation, are falling for workers across the board. An analysis of government data by Mr. Bernstein and Lawrence Mishel, the institute's president, found that the median weekly paycheck fell 1.4 percent over the past year. All the pay grades above and below the median are also sliding backward. White-collar, blue-collar — workers in all pay grades are taking a hit. Even wage earners in the highest category have seen their pay slip by 1.4 percent."When unemployment got down to 4 percent in the late-1990's, you had broad-based wage growth — and it was the first time we'd seen that in decades," said Mr. Bernstein. "That's gone."The president is not calling his tax package the "Windfall for the Wealthy" act, which is what it is. He calls it the "Jobs and Growth" act, which is what it's not.He would like us to believe that "with tax relief will come more jobs for the American people." But that's what he said in the last round of tax cuts, and the American people are still waiting.In fact, the wait is becoming interminable for some. More and more Americans are joining the ranks of the long-term unemployed, those who are out of work for six months or more. A joint study by the National Employment Law Project and the Economic Policy Institute called long-term unemployment "the scourge of a declining economy," and noted that it is taking its greatest toll among those who have traditionally felt economically secure."The reality," said the study, "is that the long-term unemployed are better educated, older and more likely to be professional workers."What the economy needs is a real stimulus that will create real jobs, not an irresponsible package of tax cuts that will inflate the portfolios of the very wealthy while starving the government of the money needed to pay for essential services and to maintain a safety net for the nation's most vulnerable citizens.We are closing schools and libraries in America, and withholding lifesaving drugs and medical treatment from the poor. The middle class is struggling ever harder to make ends meet, and reshaping its dreams of the future.In Washington, they're celebrating.
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