Ugh, the economy. America lost 263,000 jobs in September, far more than analysts expected, and the national unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent, according to the Labor Department's monthly report. (Last month it was announced that 10.3% of NYC is unemployed, the highest rate since the Dinkins administration.) State and local governments across the country slashed 47,000 jobs last month, and now the unemployment rate is at a 26-year high.
Basically, there just aren't any jobs, and now guys like laid-off construction worker Richard Hall spend their days driving around Florida in pick-up tricks picking up washing machines, ovens and loose metal from the street to sell for scrap. They pay cash by the pound, he says!
Closer to home, 56-year-old Stephanie Wheeler in Elizabeth, N.J. is starting to panic after exhausting her savings in a year spent fruitlessly looking for work. Formerly employed by a data processing company, she has $800 left in her savings account and six more weeks of $379 unemployment checks before she's completely ruined. Wheeler tells the Times, "It’s terrifying. I have an apartment. I’ve been here for eight years. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m petrified of being set out on the street."
And Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, says, "People have been celebrating that we’re through the financial crisis, but the underlying issues are all still there. We’ve lost trillions of dollars in housing wealth, and consumption’s going to be weak. It’s not the ’30s, but there’s really nothing to boost the economy." Not even scrap.