CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- You might not have noticed this, especially if you are one of the almost 15 million unemployed, but the economy is blazing away for the fortunate few. The St. Louis Federal Reserve recently reported that after-tax corporate profits are at record levels, hitting an all-time high of $1.37 trillion in the last quarter. Corporate cash reserves are somewhere around $2 trillion.
It would appear that capitalism is doing just fine under a president frequently described as anti-business by conservatives. As Ezra Klein wrote in Newsweek, "Maybe the president could be anti-me for a while. I could use the money."
So could the folks in the unemployment lines. There are still five unemployed workers for every new job opening.
Not only that, but the nature of unemployment today is different from previous recessions. It lasts longer. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in June that the median duration of unemployment was 25.5 weeks. This means that half of the nation's unemployed have been looking for work for six months or more.
As Mortimer Zuckerman noted in The Wall Street Journal, this is the worst it's been since the government began tracking this in 1948. The previous record was set in May 1983 at 12.3 weeks, less than half of the current level.
The Pew Research Center conducted a demographic analysis of the unemployed and found the median duration of joblessness to be highest among older workers, African-Americans and blue-collar workers, although the increase was sharp across the board.
While right wing jabbering heads make light of "funemployment" and imply that jobless Americans are out of work for the sheer joy of it, the Pew study found that long-term unemployment isn't much of a picnic after all.