Of course, the real problem isn’t the outside experts; the administration’s wrongheaded approach is a classic inside job. Sen. Sherrod Brown summed it up on CNN, telling John King that when it comes to putting the focus on Main Street, the president’s “advisors are mixed.”
Which makes one wonder: what level of unemployment would it take to unmix them? Even 10.2 percent, the highest level in 26 years, after 22 straight months of job losses, doesn’t seem to have quickened the pulse of Larry Summers and Tim Geithner.
And it’s not like the levees haven’t begun to crack, with the real unemployment rate — factoring in discouraged and partially employed workers — at 17.5 percent, the unemployment rate for workers aged 16 to 24 at 19 percent, and the unemployment rate for young African-Americans at 30 percent. What’s more, the average length of unemployment is at a record high, while the ratio of job seekers to open positions is now 6 to 1.
A new ABC/Washington Post poll reported that 30 percent of Americans say someone in their home has lost a job. I’m guessing that Summers and Geithner are comfortably in the other 70 percent. But even if it hasn’t hit home for them, it should be clear that unemployment is going to be the singular issue of 2010.