Such a caring gov't we have. And here ducky (mclovin) says repugs were not invited to the meetings. aha.
More than five years since the start of the Great Recession, unemployment remains a major economic problem in the United States, with long-term unemployment among its most stubborn aspects.
Nobody told Congress.
A hearing Thursday on long-term unemployment held before the 19-member Joint Economic Committee began with just a single lawmaker in attendance. Panelists testifying on the problem and its potential solutions spoke only to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the committee's vice-chair, for the first half-hour of the roughly 90-minute session.
The all-but-complete absence of congressional interest was first documented by National Journal reporter Niraj Chokshi, who tweeted a photo of the hearing. Shortly after the photo was posted, several other lawmakers did trickle in to participate. Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.) arrived eight minutes into the hearing. Once the hearing had been under way for 35 minutes, Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) was also in attendance, according to Chokshi. Eventually Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) also joined, bringing the crowd to four.
More than 4.6 million Americans have been jobless for at least 27 weeks, according to the latest job figures, a rate of 3.0 percent. That's higher than at any point since World War II, including the 2.6-percent peak during the recession of the early 1980s. The official unemployment rate currently stands at 7.6 percent, down from 10.0 percent at the recession's darkest moments, although much of the reduction has been due to people leaving the workforce -- simply giving up hope of finding a job.
Jobs advocates have continually chastised Congress for focusing on the federal budget deficit instead of the shortage of employment in the U.S., which still features more than four job seekers for every open position in the country.
The Joint Economic Committee is one of only a handful of congressional panels that features members of both the House and Senate. Its hearings are thinly attended at times, but the contrast between Thursday's hearing and a March 14 hearing on "Solving The Federal Debt Crisis" is revealing. That hearing on debt opened with five members of Congress in attendance, including three Democrats and two Republicans. Over the course of the nearly two-hour session, several other members of the committee filed in.