Admittedly, the global recession has touched all of us, but the reality is that while unemployment in the US currently stands at 8.5%, or 13.1 million people, Eurostat, the European Union's data agency, reveals a much more problematic reality during the course of 2011.
At first blush, the 17-member Euro-zone, with a mean unemployment rate of 10.3% and 16.4 million unemployed Europeans does not seem catastrophic...UNTIL you begin to look at specific countries. In bailed-out Greece, for instance, the unemployment rate in November stood at 18.8%, up from 13.3% in November 2010; while Spain had the highest unemployment rate in Europe, at 22.9%.
Comparatively speaking, the range of unemployment levels in the 50 US states ranges from 3.4% in North Dakota to 13% in Nevada. In my own state of Michigan, unemployment is above the national average (8.5%), which is now 9.8%. Sadly, residents of Michigan are leaving the state in droves, in seek of work elsewhere, just as they are in Europe and elsewhere, if they can.
In Germany, however, still the apex of the European economy, and as yet relatively unscathed by the downturn, unemployment stands at 6.6%.
Young workers in Europe have been hit disproportionately harder by the deterioration in the labor market, the figures reveal, with under-25 unemployment rates much higher than those for the workforce as a whole. In Spain, 49.6% of under-25s were without a job; in Greece, it was 46.6%.
COMMENT: The January 13, Standard & Poor's downgrade of nine Euro-zone countries is yet another negative indicator: Among those taking a hit were France and Austria, who both sunk from a AAA to AA+, while Malta, Slovakia, and Slovenia all suffered a one-step downgrade, while Portugal, Italy, Spain, and Cyprus all dropped two steps.
The bottom-line is that everyone is hurting. Also, because of globalization, if any of our countries collapse, we will all feel it...very personally.
Seemingly, the only way for our governments to collectively succeed, and make our lives better, is to do SIX things:
1. Spend less than we take in;
2. Stop borrowing money;
3. Cancel all public programs that are NOT mandated by law;
4. Cut government travel by 30%;
5. Pass legislation that mandates that all public budgets be balanced; and
6. Reduce the number of government employees by 15%.
If each of our governments accomplished these five objectives, imagine the result. Imagine?