First off: Corporations are not hoarding cash in response to the economy and the Obama administration’s economic policies. It’s actually part of a long-term trend, as Ezra Klein and Tyler Cowen (both via Matthew Yglesias) make clear.
Ezra (link to graph):
As you can see, the cash-to-assets ratio more than doubled between 1980 and 2004. The rise between 2004 and 2010 — which was really a recession-driven drop followed by a rapid recovery — just puts it back at trend. Which suggests that businesses aren’t insecure in a particularly historic way. They’re not hiring more and not spending more because they don’t see a reason to. But the extraordinary reserves that suggest an extraordinary absence of confidence aren’t actually that extraordinary.
Here is another chart — one that “screams, ‘Extend Unemployment Benefits!‘ ”
At the end of May there were 3.2 million job openings, according to a new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the face of nearly 15 million unemployed, that’s obviously not enough. And if you add in those other Americans not working because they’re discouraged or marginally attached (“U-5”), then that number jumps to almost 17 million. …
… It’s pretty clear that millions of Americans remain unemployed because the jobs aren’t there — not [because] they aren’t trying hard enough to find them. In fact, it’s not even close.
Even before his unemployment checks ended, Dwight Michael Frazee’s days were filled with the pursuit of any idea that could earn him a buck. But few are working out, and now his nights are filled with dread.In the coming weeks, the Senate is expected to resume its debate about whether to extend the emergency jobless benefits that were passed in response to the steep increase in unemployment caused by the recession. But people like Frazee, who have suffered the longest in the downturn, will not be part of that conversation. They are among the 1.4 million workers who have been unemployed for at least 99 weeks, according to the Labor Department, reaching the limit for the insurance. Their numbers have grown sixfold in the past three years.
Frazee, 50, has applied for work at more places than he can remember since he lost his construction job two years ago. He has tried car dealerships, Kmart, Home Depot and the funky shops on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, near Toms River. He looked into becoming a commercial crabber, working in title insurance and as a bail bondsman. But no dice.
While searching for work, he lived on $585 a week in unemployment payments. But the checks were cut off in May when he reached 99 weeks. Now Frazee, who is married and has a 5-year-old daughter, is in a financial free fall with no safety net.
“My life has been total stress. I sleep maybe four hours a night, worrying about money,” he said. “I understood the president and Congress had to stabilize the banks, get Wall Street going. I figured something would be done for middle-class Americans, that they couldn’t abandon us. But I was wrong.”
And there is justice for you. Thanks to the ignorance and callousness of the people who actually deserve to be in hell instead of at right-wing think tanks or in Congress (or running for Congress), millions of Americans like Frazee are the ones who ARE in hell instead of working and feeding their families.
Also, with that Judd Gregg link (“in Congress”), note how Republicans have to undermine their own argument that there has been no economic growth under the Democrats in order to make the claim that unemployment benefits are encouraging people not to look for the jobs that really are out there.