In advance of President Barack Obama's speech on jobs and unemployment, Yahoo! News asked its readers and contributors to tell us what subjects they'd like to hear Obama address. Below is a first-person perspective from a reader.
In his 2009 Labor Day jobs speech, President Obama defined a job as "waking up every day with a sense of purpose, and going to bed each night fulfilled." But it is hard to feel fulfilled when there is no paycheck. It is hard to feel fulfilled when I am afraid of tomorrow's reality. It gets harder and harder to imagine a brighter future when my unemployment status hasn't changed for nearly three years.
What would I say to the president before he delivers this year's Labor Day speech? Yes, you inherited an unprecedented economic crisis. Yes, you have a bitterly partisan legislature to contend with. Yes, most members of Congress are fixated on cutting spending instead of investing in jobs. But a corresponding reality is this: Your community-organizing methods of compromise and conciliation were effective in other contexts. And they got you into a position of power. But now, they just aren't cutting it. The income gap has never been wider. As Paul Solman discovered in working on the PBS series on economic inequality, the top 20 percent of Americans now hold 84 percent of U.S. wealth. These skewed statistics bear some connection to the stubbornly high unemployment numbers throughout the U.S.
According to the Bureau of Labor's Statistics for July, New Jersey's unemployment rate was 9.5 percent. What frustration to realize the ripple effect of unemployment widening in this sea of economic crisis. Higher education -- the field I worked in -- was always competitive for the baby boomers looking for careers. But extensive budget cuts have virtually left skeleton crews staffing campuses. Will hiring freezes end? Will positions become available even if hiring freezes end?
So many people are out of work and applying for jobs that employers have long ago stopped the practice of acknowledging resume submissions. To say it is demoralizing to be unemployed is an understatement. To realize that you aren't alone is counterintuitive in this context -- it only makes the job market outlook appear grim.
I still can't believe this has happened to me. Before I was old enough to work I would babysit to make money. After getting my first job at age 16, I never stopped working. It took many part-time jobs to get through my graduate studies programs while being a single parent. I didn't mind, especially when I realized my sons valued education as much as I did. We know what it is to make sacrifices for ourselves and our families, but too often today we feel the rug pulled out from under.
So, President Obama, you said in 2009: "I'm going to keep fighting, every single day, to turn this economy around; to put our people back to work; to renew the American Dream for your families and for future generations." Now fight harder, and get Congress to back you and fight harder. It would be unthinkable for you not to get re-elected. Fight as if your job depends on it -- because all of our jobs depend on this fight. We can't afford to let any more time pass without real change.
We really don't need another jobs speech -- just a better response to your previous ones.