Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Health industry lobby influence on supercommittee, the new face of poverty in America, and waiting for the job market to improve

Good Morning Humboldt County!

Pull up a chair, grab a cup of joe, and join me in scanning a trio of headlines that highlight challenges facing the American economy. It’s not a pretty picture. How long will we go on like this? Something has to change soon. Too many “have-nots” versus the “haves.” The disparity is leading us away from hope for recovery and down the road to abject poverty.

Health industry gives millions to lawmakers tasked with cutting spending

Doctors, drugmakers, hospitals and health insurers have spent millions over the years wooing lawmakers who now are on the powerful congressional panel charged with finding a formula to control deficits and debt, a new analysis finds. Those very same industries would get hit hard if the supercommittee succeeds.

The industry campaign contributions, compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, reinforce doubts that the 12-member panel will issue a sweeping plan to curb federal spending, an equation that can't be solved without major Medicare and Medicaid cuts.

Working-age poor population highest since '60s

Working-age America is the new face of poverty. Counting adults 18-64 who were laid off in the recent recession as well as single twenty-somethings still looking for jobs, the new working-age poor represent nearly 3 out of 5 poor people — a switch from the early 1970s when children made up the main impoverished group.

While much of the shift in poverty is due to demographic changes — Americans are having fewer children than before — the now-weakened economy and limited government safety net for workers are heightening the effect. Currently, the ranks of the working-age poor are at the highest level since the 1960s when the war on poverty was launched. When new census figures for 2010 are released next week, analysts expect a continued increase in the overall poverty rate due to persistently high unemployment last year.

Wait for the job market to recover? Some workers can’t

The theory has it that disgruntled employees across the nation will start sending out their resumes once the weak economy turns around. But some workers can’t wait that long. They feel overworked, underpaid and unappreciated right now, and things are so bad for them that they want a new gig now.

The Labor Day holiday was created to celebrate workers, but many don’t feel like celebrating after years of cutbacks and sacrifices. More than one-third of U.S. employees believe “the spirit of the American workforce is broken,” according to the Aflac WorkForces Report released this week. And that appears to be causing the beginnings of a turnover trend even in this tough job market.

An annual labor study by, a jobs website, found that 22 percent of employed individuals in the United States have changed jobs in the last year, that’s up from 18 percent in 2010.

Time to walk on down the road…

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