December 05, 2008

Dreadful memories

Here's hoping a car isn't coming.

El Cabrero spent a good chunk of the last few months working with a couple of partners on a fairly substantial report about the state of working people in West Virginia. Here's a link to a press release and the full report.

We wanted to look both at how things stand now and at how they've changed over a 30 year period, starting in 1979. It brought back a lot of painful memories of hard times.

Here's the short version. Once upon a time in West Virginia, a typical young person had a decent chance of finding a job with good wages and benefits without too much trouble. Then the ladder got yanked away.

In 1979, before the economic tsunami hit, WV was higher than the national average in hourly wages, pension, and health care coverage. The decade of the 1980s was an unmitigated economic disaster here. Unemployment through most of the 1980s and early 1990s was in the double digits. In 1983, the official unemployment rate was an incredible 17.3 percent. That didn't count discouraged or underemployed workers.

Those are just numbers. I remember plant closing after plant closing, massive layoffs in mines and manufacturing--and that was before the NAFTA wave crashed over us. It was grim.

It took us literally decades to dig our way out from under and begin making progress again. And now that we're getting back on track, we're threatened once again by the international economic meltdown.

It's always something, isn't it?

FILLING IN THE STREAMS. Here's more on the Bush administration's last minute maneuvers to ease restrictions on mountaintop removal mining.

ON THE OTHER HAND, Bank of America announced it will stop issuing loans to companies that engage in mountaintop removal.

WEATHERING THE STORM. Do personality traits make some people more adaptable in hard times?

Here's a link to an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute.


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