From Volume 37, Issue 31 of EIR Online, Published Aug. 13, 2010

U.S. Economic/Financial News

States Squeeze the Elderly To Save on Pensions

Aug. 2 (EIRNS)—In addition to the destruction of jobs and services by states faced with collapsing revenues and Federal cutoffs, many states are driving up the retirement age, and years of service required, for workers to receive their full pensions. The Wall Street Journal reports today:

* Ten states have introduced penalties on early retirement and/or have raised the retirement age, while California and Mississippi are considering the same.

* Illinois raised the retirement age for new teacher hires from 60 to 67, with current teachers' retirement age raised from 55 to 67.

* Missouri, retirement age for state workers was raised to 67 from 62.

* Utah raised the required number of years worked to receive full pension, for fire and police, from 20 to 25 (many other states have moved this from 30 to 35).

* Arizona raised the "retirement rule"—the sum of years worked and the worker's age—from 80 to 85.

* Colorado teachers stopped the planned rise of the retirement age, but the state raised the "retirement rule" to 88 from 85.

Social Security is similarly threatened: Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) wants to raise the eligibility age to 70.

Is Starvation Michelle Obama's Anti-Obesity Campaign?

Aug. 5 (EIRNS)—The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported yesterday that the number of Americans receiving food stamps rose to a record in May, the last month for which figures were available: 40.8 million people, in just under 19 million households. That is, one in eight Americans rely on food stamps now, to eat, a 19% jump of recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program subsidies for food purchases from one year ago, and an increase of 0.9% from April.

Food stamp recipients cannot afford the lobster Michelle Obama enjoyed on her first night in Spain. Average monthly benefits are only $133.77 per person, and $288.87, per household.

Nor do these figures include people who need food assistance, but who cannot jump through the bureaucratic hoops to qualify.

Skilled Workers Have Been Thrown Out of Work En Masse

Aug. 4 (EIRNS)—An idea of the large numbers of skilled workers and engineers needed to remake the continental infrastructure under the NAWAPA (North American Water and Power Alliance) principle, who have lost their employment in the past decade's crash of U.S. employment, emerges from Federal government data.

In the nation as a whole: 222,000 electrical machinery workers/engineers have lost these jobs since 2000, or, a whopping 37% of national employment of such skilled workers has disappeared. For electrical power machinery producers, 67,000 jobs have been eliminated just since 2006, or 15%; for other machinery producers, 200,000 eliminated since 2005, or 16%. Seven percent of electric utility employees, 43,000, have been laid off since 2000; 6% of rail transportation employees, or 15,000, since 2006; 301,000 civil and heavy construction engineers' jobs eliminated, or 16%; 1.436 million specialty contractors' employees laid off since 2005, or 28%; some 2.44 million among all construction workers' jobs eliminated since 2006, or 21.5%.

In the 16 Western states area of direct projected building of NAWAPA catchments, dams, pumping stations, canals, tunnels, power supplies, and equipment, unemployment is massive. Eleven of the 12 metro areas of highest unemployment in the country are in the middle of NAWAPA project building/recruiting areas: Las Vegas, and ten metro areas in California, led by Los Angeles and Oakland (only the Detroit area joins them in the among the leading 12). Their official average unemployment rate is 13%; their real unemployment rate averages well over 20%; their unemployment rate for those aged 16-25 averages 30%.

In the past 12 months alone, California lost 13% of its construction workers, Nevada 23%, Colorado 17%, Texas 8%. Los Angeles/Long Beach lost 15% of construction in the past 12 months. Construction employment has reached a 20-year low across the nation, in the face of Barack Obama's feckless "economic stimulus."

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