I hope you and your family are enjoying a safe and joyous holiday season. With 2009 drawing to a close, I want to tell you about our plans for 2010.
Over the last few weeks my colleagues, Heidi, Algernon and Elise told you about some of EPI’s programs and asked for your support. Never before in EPI’s history has our work been more critically needed, or more widely-recognized and influential than it is today. I am so proud of our team and everything they have done to draw attention to the economic challenges now before us and their work in developing innovative plans to meet these challenges head on.
But we all know our task is far from over. As you contemplate your final year-end giving, please consider a tax deductible donation to EPI.
Almost 16 million Americans are out of work, and one-third of them have been unemployed for more than six months — a level of long-term unemployment not seen since the Great Depression. The unemployment rate, which has hovered around 10% for the past couple of months, does not count those working part time because they cannot find a full-time job or others who have had their wages or hours cut. Minority unemployment and underemployment (about 25%) are even higher. With high unemployment projected for all of 2010 we can expect that a third of the workforce and more than 40% of minority workers will be unemployed or underemployed at some point during the year.
This widespread economic distress has left many people struggling to cover their most basic expenses. Many have to choose between paying their rent, buying food, or filling prescription medications. This reality is not acceptable in one of the most prosperous nations in the world. Now is not the time to trim the social safety net and turn our back on our neighbors, our communities, and future generations.
EPI has played a remarkable role in generating a renewed debate over jobs and in shaping the outlines of the policies emerging to generate millions more jobs in 2010. Two months ago this issue was not even on the national agenda. We will continue pursuing a bold jobs agenda. But we cannot do this work alone. Your support of $50, $100, $1,000, or whatever you can afford is vital to our success.
It is hard to overstate the severity of the jobs crisis. Those who say we cannot afford to take action to create jobs have it all wrong. The fact is, we cannot afford the price of inaction. If high unemployment is allowed to persist, it will push millions more families into poverty, put a drag on the nation’s economic growth for years to come, and do serious damage to the nation’s long-term fiscal outlook.
Creating jobs is a moral and economic imperative, and one from which we cannot back down. EPI has created a five-part jobs plan that we will continue to share with policy makers, the media, and the general public to emphasize the price of inaction and the promise of what can be accomplished.
In addition to our continuing work on jobs, we will…
- Show how the Great Recession impacts ordinary Americans, with new interactive tools that help journalists, students and members of the public understand the labor market and current trends in the economy.
- Describe how even before the Great Recession workers were not benefitting from economic growth despite achieving record levels of productivity.
- Highlight the role of unions in building a middle class and giving workers a voice to address workplace concerns and collectively bargain for fair compensation.
- Articulate the need for a higher minimum wage set at half the average wage.
- Explain the need for an education policy that addresses the broader social inequalities outside the classroom that affect performance in the classroom.
- Propose education policies and school accountability measures that will close the achievement gaps.
- Build on our groundbreaking program to illuminate the economic hardships faced by communities of color and bring these profound inequalities into the public conversation.
As we enter 2010 with a comprehensive Plan to Revive the American Economy, we do so with a solid track record of success that positions us well for the challenges ahead. The very fact that the well-being of working Americans has become part of the mainstream economic discussion is a legacy of EPI’s hard work.
It was EPI, collaborating with Yale Political Scientist Jacob Hacker, which re-introduced the public option as a means for extending health insurance coverage to all Americans while controlling costs and improving quality. Likewise, EPI led the charge to raise the minimum wage at the federal level and inform debates in state houses around the country, working with partner organizations through our state Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN). And when Congress had to decide whether to extend unemployment benefits at various points in the last two years, EPI researchers testified at the hearings that preceded each extension. And, it is EPI that is incubating the policies that will address retirement insecurity and become the center of debate in the future.
Overcoming the mistakes of failed policies will be neither quick nor easy. With your support, we will continue to push for innovative ideas that revive the economy and do not leave average Americans behind. Please donate whatever you can today.
Economic Policy institute
P.S. Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year from all the staff at EPI.