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National NOW Times >> Spring 2004 >> Article

Faltering Job Market, Economy Weigh Heavily on Voters' Minds

Women and Minorities Bear Brunt of Crisis

by Michele Keller, Internet Communications Manager
Facts About the U.S. Economic Crisis
  • Roughly 14.3 million U.S. workers are unemployed or underemployed.
  • Almost 44 million individuals in the U.S., most of them in working families, have no health coverage.
  • Roughly 690,000 U.S. jobs have been moved abroad since 2001. Fourteen million white-collar jobs could move overseas in the years to come.
  • George W. Bush is the first president to preside over a net job loss since Herbert Hoover during the Great Depression.
  • Women, particularly single mothers, are bearing the brunt of the jobs crisis.

    Source: AFL-CIO, “Show Us the Jobs: America’s Jobs Crisis,” 2004

  • Times have certainly changed in the three years since George W. Bush took office in January 2001. The United States has lost 2.8 million private-sector jobs, and millions of employed workers worry about their ability to cover health care expenses and make ends meet. The long-term unemployment rate, which tracks workers who have been jobless for six months or more, is the highest in more than 20 years.

    More and more U.S. jobs are being moved offshore – up to 14 million white-collar jobs in the next few years, according to some studies. At the same time, many of the limited new jobs that are being created do not provide family-supporting wages, health care or retirement security.

    Does Bush Have a Plan?

    Promising to reinvigorate the troubled economy, Bush proposed a massive $726 billion tax cut package in February 2003, which, according to the Economic Policy Institute, would push the federal budget to a record deficit in 2004 and eliminate 750,000 more jobs over the next decade. In May 2003, Congress passed a $320 billion tax measure that gave the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans an average of almost $100,000 in tax reductions over the next four years.

    Instead of cutting taxes for low-income workers, investing in the nation's schools, funding a meaningful Medicare drug benefit, or strengthening Social Security for future generations, the Bush administration cut taxes for its multi-millionaire supporters.

    "Using sleight of hand tactics and 'we care about working families' rhetoric, the Bush administration is determined to increase profits for big corporations at the expense of working people and their families," NOW President Kim Gandy said, pointing out that women are more likely to bear the brunt of any faltering economy because the wage gap decreases women's spending power and retirement security, which leads to smaller pensions and reduced Social Security benefits.

    The Economy is a Women's Issue

    Feminist leaders agree that the Bush administration simply has not done enough to change the course of the weakened economy over the past three years, a fact that is likely to weigh heavily on women voters' minds at the polls in November.

    "Women today are asking themselves if they and their families are better off now than they were four years ago, and the answer is a resounding No," Gandy continued. "Instead of taking action to help displaced workers and to reinforce the economic safety net, the Bush administration has wasted precious time working on behalf of its moneyed interests and spending billions on a unilateral war in Iraq."

    "If voters want to make this country a more just place for women and low-income workers, they will turn out in droves Nov. 2."

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