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long term unemployment
fragile economy
recession
Who Is The Face Of Long Term Unemployment
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Long term unemployment by definition is anyone unemployed for twenty-seven weeks or more. The average duration for unemployment today is almost forty (40) weeks.

Unfortunately, there are approximately four million long term unemployed with marginal prospects of employment in the near term. A new term has been coined for the unemployed whose benefits have expired after a total of 99 weeks; they are known as the ninety-niners. The problem is throughout this recession we have failed to put a face on the long term unemployed and as a result it has become easy to disguise our unemployed as percentages or numbers.

By reducing a large segment of the population to nameless and/or souless individuals it is easier to make the kinds of heartless decisions in Congress that are currently being contemplated. The Republicans in congress are prepared to propose cutting federally paid jobless benefit extensions to the states and instead give these funds to the states to avert tax increases on businesses in states that borrowed $41 billion to pay unemployment claims. The states will then use these funds to prevent tax increases on businesses, pay back federal loans, or fund job training programs. The all encompassing idea is to emphasize job creation.

The risk with this proposal is that by removing the income from those that can least afford loss of income we will jeparodize a fragile economy that is just beginning to show signs fo recovery much less deprive someone from paying an electric bill or attempting to keep a roof over their family's head. Furthermore, with the continued emphasis on spending cuts in both Congress and individual states the social safety nets in place will be left with gaping holes where real people will now fall through.

Throughout all of these machinations there have been no attempts to identify the long-term unemployed and for good reason. America is galvanized by symbolism and imagery. Symbolism and imagery has been responsible for moving America forward in the worst of times and in the best of times. What we need is to wage a war on long term unemployment combined with symbolism and imagery. Put a face or faces in the publics eye so that the human element makes it more difficult to ignore or marginalize the unemployed productive manpower. The long term unemployed is neither faceless or nameless. For they are our neighbors, friends, family or senior citizens. We need to portray our vulnerable citizens as having been effected and not the creators of this recession.

Perhaps we can borrow Smoky the Bear famous for his "Only you can prevent forest fires" statement and update Smoky as a teacher in a crowded class-room saying, only you can prevent illiteracy, please don't cut funding for education. Or instead of "Rosie the Riveter" we have Rosie the Information Technology Director stating my technology skills and certifications are in place and I am ready to reinvigorate and strengthen our global technology platforms from American based offices.

It is no surprise that the images of the 9/11 World Trade Center collapse has kept our focus and resources riveted on fighting global terrorism. Similarly, a strong powerful image to engage businesses and institutions to rebuild and retool America will help to reduce the ranks of the long term unemployed. It is not that we lack the education or technical skills, it is that we lack the will to demand our businesses and governments to focus our strategic resources on America and American shores.

Now that the American government has toppled the symbol of global terrorism, we need our government leaders to step forward and propose that our government take the lead in reducing unemployment. We need to create technology works project programs that will spin-off businesses and technology to drive our economy. We need to create alternative fuel solutions that will reduce our dependence on foreign governments and oil that have little interest in our development other than the accumulation of American dollars.

The long term unemployed want to work and are willing to work but it will require the Federal government to intervene with innovative policy and programs along with a declaration of war to marshall resources and strategy to virtually eliminate our problem.


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