Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The austerity agenda as path to more unemployment...

The Promise of Increased Unemployment
The International Monetary Fund issued a new report on the impact of austerity policies - i.e. cutting government spending during a recession - on increasing unemployment. This "prolonged unemployment through austerity" is the heart of the GOP's economic program.  According to the historical research of IMF economists, it is a recipe for making the existing disaster worse:
Fiscal contractions raise both short-term and long-term unemployment, as shown in Chart 3, but the impact is much greater on the latter. Long-term unemployment refers to spells of unemployment lasting more than six months. Moreover, within three years the rise in short-term unemployment due to fiscal consolidation comes to an end, but long-term unemployment remains higher even after five years.

Fiscal consolidations thus add to the pain of those who are likely to be already suffering the most—the long-term unemployed. This is a particular worry today since the share of long-term unemployed increased in most Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries during the Great Recession. And even in countries where it did not increase—such as France, Germany, Italy, and Japan—the share had already been very high even before the recession.

Job loss is associated with persistent earnings loss, adverse impacts on health, and declines in the academic performance and earnings potential of the children of displaced workers (see “The Tragedy of Unemployment,” in F&D, December 2011). These adverse effects are exacerbated the longer a person is unemployed.