GUEST EDITORIAL: The recession that keeps on taking

The following editorial appeared Thursday in the Chicago Tribune:

 

The respectfully nicknamed Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, and the wounds from that economic collapse have been slow to heal. Yet even a robust recovery, as the nation experienced after the double-dip recessions of the early 1980s, would have helped only so much. Inevitably, human pain lingers.

Using decades of Social Security records, academic researchers have shown that workers who lose their jobs in mass layoffs suffer deep, persistent losses in their incomes and living standards. …

Even in relative good times, laid-off workers take a huge financial hit as a result of their involuntary job losses. In a recent study, scholars at the University of Chicago and Columbia University found that men ages 50 and under who were laid off when the nation’s unemployment rate stood below 6 percent could expect to lose the equivalent of 1.4 years of income over the rest of their working lives. That’s money they otherwise could have expected to earn had they been able to continue on their former career trajectories, before layoffs forced them to take jobs that paid less.

And when the unemployment rate exceeds 8 percent, as it did from early 2009 until this September, those thrown out of work lose a staggering 2.8 years of income over the rest of their working lives. …

All of us have heard story after story about how families long rooted in the middle class have found themselves without a roof over their heads. …

As a nation of individuals, we Americans can do better — and we shouldn’t be relying on our local, state and federal governments to meet every human need. …

Given the suffering that continues as this recovery limps along, it was maddening to see President Barack Obama and a divided Congress head off for their holiday breaks with no deal in place to avert the “fiscal cliff” …

That ongoing failure to negotiate a settlement risks just what millions of Americans fear: a new recession while they’re still struggling to escape the effects of the last.

At the rate our elected politicians in Washington are going, the U.S. may ring in the new year with tax hikes on every working American, and the serious threat that joblessness again will spike.

Mr. President, members of Congress, get to work.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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