In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain responded to a question about the Occupy Wall Street protests by saying, “Don’t blame the big banks. If you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself.”
Here are the facts: This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released new data from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey showing that there were nearly 3.1 million job openings in August. However, we know from other BLS data that there were 14 million unemployed workers in August. In other words, there were nearly 11 million more job seekers than job openings.
The ratio of unemployed workers to job openings is now 4.6-to-1. A job seeker’s ratio of more than 4-to-1 means there are literally no jobs available for more than three out of four unemployed workers. In a given month in today’s labor market, the vast majority of the unemployed are not going to find a job no matter what they do. It is wrong, not to mention cruel, to call this their fault.
Mr. Cain went on to explain that he doesn’t “understand these demonstrations and what is it that they’re looking for.” For many, the answer is simple: jobs. National politics wrongly vilifying the unemployed while ignoring the economic fundamentals of a severe aggregate demand slump, however, are blocking an appropriate fiscal response that could put millions of Americans back to work.