I’ll start with the bad news: a record number of Americans are drawing unemployment benefits. 4.8 million Americans are currently on the rolls. With this month’s slew of announced layoffs, that number is sure to rise. This is one of the results of Cons running the country for eight years. The number of Americans getting unemployment insurance as a ratio of total Americans is the highest since 1983. That number will likly get higher. Weekly jobless claims are double what they were just one year ago. As big as the Reinvestment Act is, is it big enough? I don’t think so.
Now for the good employment news: President Obama has signed his first piece of legislation – the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The measure is designed to make it easier for workers to sue for decades-old discrimination. It nullifies one of 2008′s most shameful Supreme Court decisions that stated workers only had 180 days after the initial decision by employers to discriminate to file a pay-discrimination lawsuit. It was one of many pro-corporate rulings the Supreme Court handed down last year – the very thing I and other progressives were trying to prevent by pressuring Senators to not allow Roberts and Alito to ascend to the court. Their anti-worker, anti-citizen ruling history was well established. Instead of localized effects, they now have the power to harm American workers for the next generation. Thankfully, citizens do have some measure of recourse: electing pro-worker and pro-citizen legislators to establish moral laws protecting their interests. While the LLFPA has been passed, which will help women achieve more pay equity in the future, Ledbetter will never see the money she was owed by Goodyear.