Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Target Corp. to lay off workers, continue the 'job crisis'

I write this from the Twin Cities, where Target Corporation headquarters itself in downtown Minneapolis. Today, CNBC is reporting that Target is laying off an undisclosed percentage of its corporate workforce. My heart goes out to the unfortunate, and to the company itself: I am sure they would rather not lay off the men and women who make their business possible. My heart goes out to the 65,000 thousand or more workers to be laid off after yesterday's news. And to the 2.6 million workers who lost their jobs last year.

While certainly much of this is due to the 'credit crisis' -- there are fewer consumers and companies have less valuable debt than before the credit crisis -- can we at least begin to understand that the underreported story not just of the moment but of our era is the problem of jobs? For credit/debt levels -- as low as they are -- are only returning to historically normal levels. Now that seems like a kick to the head, but only because the past few decades, and especially the current one, saw credit/debt levels in this coutnry hit almost unthinkable levels. So the credit crisis is about a year, year and a half, old.

In contrast, the jobs crisis is decades old - I would argue three, almost four decades old to be exact. The extension of credit has allowed our economy to grow without great jobs numbers, and the globalization of capital flows and production sites have put a downward spiral on wages, with the benefit of lower prices. So we've had this: More credit. Lower prices. Good, and good. Fewer, lower-paying jobs. Bad. The truth is, if more Americans had had better jobs with higher wages, we wouldn't have had to extend so many bad loans. And thus we wouldn't have a credit crisis right now.

Perhaps that's good logic, I don't know. Maybe my heart is in the way of good analysis. Again, I don't know. What I do know is there are a lot of families today wondering where the bread is going to come from.

I understand we need to get credit flowing again. But it's been far longer that we've needed to improve the job market.

Good luck everyone, and may we develop new knowledge to deal with these present problems.

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