The big news of the day today is the fact that the economy shed 650,000 more jobs in February and the job loss numbers for the previous two months were revised upwards. The nationwide unemployment rate is now 8.1 percent, the highest in 25 years. Since December 2007, which is the technical start of the current recession, the economy has lost 4.4 million jobs.
We gathered the thoughts of Dean Baker and James Galbraith, two of the most prominent economists on the left. Baker makes it clear that not only are things bad, they are worse than expected:
The one piece of somewhat good news in this report is that wages are continuing to rise, with nominal wages rising at 3.5 percent annual rate over the quarter. However, everything else in this report is extremely bad. The economy is in a free fall with no obvious breaks in place. The recent forecasts used in analyzing the stimulus and the budget, which projected 8.5 percent unemployment for the 4th quarter, now look impossibly optimistic. The unemployment rate is likely to hit 8.5 percent by March and will almost certainly cross 9.0 percent by the early summer. Without substantial additional stimulus, it could cross 10.0 percent by year end. This report shows that recent economic projections were overly optimistic.
Galbraith suggests the following steps to spur recovery:
1. Increase Social Security 30 percent across the board
2. Declare a full holiday on the payroll tax.
3. Cut the age of eligibility for Medicare to 55.
4. Make general revenue sharing open-ended.
5. Do the National Infrastructure Fund, also open-ended.
6. Put a moratorium on all foreclosures, and turn over the problems to a new HOLC.
7. Unleash Sheila Bair on the banks.
Somebody mail this to the freaked out Obama economic team.