The Obama administration may claim the recession is over and offer glowing reports of growth in the housing and financial markets but those messages ring hollow to the millions of Americans out of work and facing a future with little chance for employment.
There are six people seeking jobs for every one that is open. That’s 14.5 million unemployed Americans trying to get hired for 2.4 million jobs.
And companies aren’t ready to start hiring again. With unemployment benefits running out, an increasing number of Americans will lose their homes, their savings and their future.
Unemployment stands at 9.7 percent natiowide. It’s expected to top 10 percent by the end of the year.
For these Americans, the recession is far from over.
Despite signs that the economy has resumed growing, unemployed Americans now confront a job market that is bleaker than ever in the current recession, and employment prospects are still getting worse.
Job seekers now outnumber openings six to one, the worst ratio since the government began tracking open positions in 2000. According to the Labor Department’s latest numbers, from July, only 2.4 million full-time permanent jobs were open, with 14.5 million people officially unemployed.
And even though the pace of layoffs is slowing, many companies remain anxious about growth prospects in the months ahead, making them reluctant to add to their payrolls.
“There’s too much uncertainty out there,” said Thomas A. Kochan, a labor economist at M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management. “There’s not going to be an upsurge in job openings for quite a while, not until employers feel confident the economy is really growing.”
The dearth of jobs reflects the caution of many American businesses when no one knows what will emerge to propel the economy. With unemployment at 9.7 percent nationwide, the shortage of paychecks is both a cause and an effect of weak hiring.
In Milwaukee, Debbie Kransky has been without work since February, when she was laid off from a medical billing position — her second job loss in two years. She has exhausted her unemployment benefits, because her last job lasted for only a month.
Indeed, in a perverse quirk of the unemployment system, she would have qualified for continued benefits had she stayed jobless the whole two years, rather than taking a new position this year. But since her latest unemployment claim stemmed from a job that lasted mere weeks, she recently drew her final check of $340.
Ms. Kransky, 51, has run through her life savings of roughly $10,000. Her job search has garnered little besides anxiety.
“I’ve worked my entire life,” said Ms. Kransky, who lives alone in a one-bedroom apartment. “I’ve got October rent. After that, I don’t know. I’ve never lived month to month my entire life. I’m just so scared, I can’t even put it into words.”