Double-dip? It’s more like a prolonged soaking. Unemployment has been high, around 8%, since 2009, with only small and temporary improvements.
Youth unemployment is particularly severe, standing at 22.6% as of June 2012 — a 9% spike since late 2007.
The number not unemployed but working part-time only because they are unable to find a full-time job is rising, and is now over 600,000. Real wages have been falling since late 2009.
No improvement is in sight, and a eurozone crash may bring drastic worsening.
This is more than just episodic bad luck as a result of snow, the Royal Wedding bank holiday, or any of the other pitiful excuses from the Chancellor George Osborne. This is a deep and serious crisis of capitalism.
Five or 10 years of prolonged depression means 18-year-olds permanently unemployed or with only precarious part-time or temporary work until well into their 20s; it means recently laid-off 55-year-olds cast into a similar situation until pension age. These things wreck lives and communities.
Not everyone is suffering. The richest in society are getting richer.
According to the Sunday Times “Rich List” of April 2012, the combined wealth of the richest 1,000 individuals in Britain is now a depression-defying £414 billion. Their combined wealth increased by 4.7% since 2011.
Directors’ pay at the top 100 companies rose 49% in 2010-11 and 14% in 2011-2.
15,500 new dwellings for the global rich are currently under construction in London, at an average market value of £2.5 million each. The total value, at £38 billion, is bigger than the total of the cuts the coalition government is planning from health, education, other services, and benefits.
Far from there being “no money”, the depression is being used to intensify inequality. The ruling class is using the crisis to attack wages, public services and workers’ rights in order to increase their profits.
Our answer is to seize this wealth, which was created by the working-class, and to place it under democratic collective ownership. Start by taking the banks into public ownership under workers’ and social control!
Rather than production for profit serving only to line the pockets of the bosses, we need to use society’s wealth to meet social needs such as jobs, homes and services for all.