Time for a new 'New Deal'?

Commentary: U.S. jobs problem looms larger than lip service

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The "Great Recession" has not followed any prior overall pattern, and this week’s data confirms its unique path — and that it never ended.

We are not re-entering a classic recession. The Institute for Supply Management manufacturing survey is still positive, at 50.6 in August just barely so. August sales of cars did just fine, near 12 million annualized, which is 7 percent above a year ago and roughly the same as July.

August employment numbers were flat, but we have no new wave of layoffs. New claims for unemployment insurance have been stuck near 400,000 weekly for a year. If your job is in technology, health care, most government, export trade, auto manufacturing, or other manufacturing with globally competitive wages and productivity, you’re fine. Maybe you’re even buying a car.

If you’re in direct competition with global wages, or provide services to those people, you’re in a hole with no ladder.

We can stumble forward this way, even if U.S. gross domestic product dips to negative occasionally. The limit: We cannot generate enough tax revenue to run the show, and deficits will kill us.