The politics of unemployment

Chris Dillow has a good post today on why mass unemployment is here to stay.

Dillow runs the numbers and shows that to halve un- or under-employment to three million within five years would require economic growth of 3.7% a year – which is simply inconceivable in the current circumstances.

He then draws two important conclusions from this. First:

…unless everyone gets very surprised, mass unemployment is here to stay. Politicians who pretend it can be eliminated by policy measures are just making prats of themselves.

Second:

The policy questions should not be merely how to create jobs – important as this is – but rather how to deal with the inequality, unhappiness and potential social tensions that prolonged mass unemployment will cause.

But as Dillow observes:

[P]oliticians of both parties are showing few signs of answering these.

Instead, the general political response to unemployment is another example of the tendency I was talking about in a previous post: treating a structural issue (grotesque inequalities of power and wealth, economic malaise, unemployment) as a matter of ethics (good bankers vs bad bankers, producers vs predators, hard-working families vs workshy scroungers).

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