Growing Unemployment, Falling Wages

May 11, 2003

Last month, the number of unemployed workers rose to 8.8 million or 6% of the labor force. This means that when family members are counted 30 million people are being denied a stable, secure livelihood.

Since the current recession began in March 2001, the number of jobless workers has grown by almost 3 million. Particularly disturbing is the fact that long-term unemployment is also growing dramatically. In April, the percentage of workers unemployed for 6 months or more rose to 22% of the workforce or about 2 million people. In most cases, these workers are no longer eligible for unemployment compensation and are literally deprived of any income.

This persistent and growing unemployment also puts downward pressure on the wages of employed workers. With unemployment up, competition for jobs increases and the capitalists take advantage of this to cut wages. Within the last year, average real wages have dropped nearly 3% across the country.

The need for a livelihood is the very starting point of human existence. The fact that tens of millions of Americans are denied this right condemns the capitalist system as incapable of meeting even the most elementary needs of the people. In fact, capitalism relies on the army of unemployed workers as a club to beat down the wages of the entire workers and force tens of millions more to live with constant job and economic insecurity.

In other words, capitalism is nothing but a "modern" system of slavery under which the laboring classes and not only denied the fruits of their labor but even the right to a secure livelihood.