By AMANDA VENDER

PHOTO: Jonathan Wade
PHOTO: Jonathan Wade

Candidates for president in 2012 are lining up to talk about jobs, including President Obama, who hit the road on a bus tour in October to promote a jobs bill. If passed, the bill would allow people and businesses to pay less money in taxes, would spend money to improve buildings and transportation projects, and prevent some teachers and firefighters from losing their jobs.

What’s the problem with jobs? Too few people have them. The official unemployment rate is nine percent: almost one out of every ten working people can’t find a job. But it is higher for certain groups: 25 percent of teenagers, 16 percent of blacks and 11 percent of Hispanics cannot find a job.

This official unemployment rate does not count people who have given up looking for work and people who work part-time. Taking these people into account, the unemployment rate is 16.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Even if Obama’s jobs bill becomes law, many people say that we shouldn’t expect big improvements. “I hope people don’t believe that the American Jobs Act is going to solve anything,” said Dedrick Muhammad of the NAACP on the Democracy Now! news program. “We’ve been going in the wrong direction 30 years, concentrating wealth at the highest.”

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GRAPHIC: National Archives
GRAPHIC: National Archives

Flashback: 1930’s “The New Deal
The last time this many people were out of work in the United States was during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. How did the country get out of it? The U.S. Government started a series of massive jobs programs under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs put millions of people to work building roads, schools and parks, and it even employed actors, artists and musicians.