Will the bailout plan help the job market?

October 1, 2008 7:06:13 PM PDT
The financial markets traded with a good deal of uncertainty on Wednesday. Prices on the Dow Industrial Average took a 200 point plunge in early trading, but closed just 20 points down for the day. Clearly, a bailout would boost the stock market, but will it help the job market?

There was talk on Tuesday that the Senate bill might include an extension of jobless benefits.

About 9.4 million Americans are out of work. One in five of them has been unemployed for six months or longer. Instead, the bill eliminates a tax on wooden arrows for children, but provides no help to create jobs.

"An extension of unemployment benefits is very needed in the economy, but it is needed regardless of the bailout, and it was needed prior to any of these problems," said Sylvia Allegretto, Ph.D. from the UC Center on Wage and Development Dynamics.

Allegretto says the cure for Wall Street is not going to address rising unemployment.

California's jobless rate is currently 7.7 percent. That's up from 5.5 percent in august of last year -- the largest increase in 17 years.

About 62,000 jobs have been lost so far this year, putting 1.4 million people out of work.

"I would hope to see a lot of money spent to get the American worker to work -- jobs creation, rebuilding the infrastructure, investments in education. As long as we're spending all this money, let's make sure that the U.S. worker gets some of the benefits," said Allegretto.

The quandary facing many workers today is finding a job in demand. These are students in a two-year automotive technical training program at Contra Costa College.

"How safe of a job can you have when everyone drives cars? Everybody's constantly bumping into cars and wants to paint their cars. It's a safe field to get into," said automotive technical student Luis Gomez.

Gomez, who goes by Louie, says he put in two years in construction and three years as a plumber. But he knew those trades were not secure.

In fact, the Bay Area has lost 8,900 jobs in construction between August of last year and this year ? 6,500 jobs in the financial sector and 5,400 jobs in retail.

"They've seen the foreclosures, they've been involved with that because some of their parents have lost their houses. So they've picked this trade because they can see they can go out in the field and get employment, and they'll be able to buy a house or even help their parents keep their house," said automotive technology professor Peter Lock.

The nation's jobless rate is at its highest level in five years. There have been eight straight months of job losses; 84,000 jobs were cut in august alone. When those numbers were released, the White House responded saying: "The economy is resilient."


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