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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Columns

Mum’s the word


If you own stock in the Cayman Islands, a Swiss bank account gaining currency by the millisecond, or an eight-digit tax return, 8.3 percent unemployment probably isn’t that a big deal to you.

There are Olympic tickets in the mail, foreign stocks to monitor, and that statue in the garden whose fingertips need manicuring. Another article on the economy can probably wait until you’ve fed your pony in the attic and re-stabilized the aquarium in the basement.

If you aren’t Mitt Romney, this just might brighten your day: America’s unemployment rate has stumbled to the lowest point it’s been in three years. What’s strange is that some candidates aren’t too happy about it, while many that are have tread lightly.

Their justification isn’t flawed. It all stems from a universal idiom: If it looks like it’s too good to be true, it probably is. The numbers released are not all that glamorous, Ron Paul says.

In any other scenario, the reaction from the eastern hemisphere of the political spectrum would be commonplace. Disregard for the information wouldn’t just be appropriate, it would be expected.

But try repeating those sentiments to the single mother who’s just been employed as a Goodwill associate, or the just-hired law school graduate whose mounting loans has resulted in a cabinet’s worth of prescriptions — they just might change your mind. While some parties might view last week’s data as “just numbers,” it’s important to remember that every decimal represents an actual person with actual problems. The irony in these exchanges is that the gains are being devalued by groups whose own job security is ironclad.

The figures demonstrate not all is lost. The silver lining may not have found its way to everyone’s doorstep, but it’s still out there. The 11 million people who had given up looking for work over the course of the year are right to be apprehensive, as their neighbor’s good news isn’t necessarily their own.

It’s hard enough to find food as a university student, let alone as a fully-integrated member of society with other obligations. But success stories are not far and few between.

As rough as the year’s been for the unemployed, any news should be good news. While it may not be the most attractive idea, the fact remains that our circumstances could just as easily have gotten worse.

We’re obviously not in the clear yet. The country still sports the highest unemployment rate since any “post-war” era. Career outsourcing still hurts. Europe’s philandering can only mean that some sort of downturn is on the horizon.

But if nothing else, these concessions make the light shining on the unemployed a little brighter. It’s the catalyst for a recovery, and although it’s not instantaneous, changes are being made.

One day you really will lease that pony, but the steady improvement of the nation’s job sector will have to do for now.

 

Bryan Washington is a sociology freshman and may be reached at [email protected]

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