In 2010, when we began the Over 50 and Out of Work documentary project that evolved into the award-winning documentary Set for Life, unemployment among 50+ Americans was an acute problem. Now, it’s chronic for millions and Washington isn’t paying attention. We wrote about this disconnect in our summer StayThirsty.com column:
Some problems are getting so old, no one in Washington seems to be paying attention anymore.
The Great Recession started in 2007 and officially ended in 2009. Yet, it continues to impact the economy and hamper its slow recovery. Almost 12 million Americans remain out of work, 4.1 million more than when the recession began, and 4.7 million of the unemployed have been out of work for six months or longer.
On the Sunlight Foundation’s website, you can input a word and see how often members of Congress have mentioned it over a period of time. A search for the word “jobs” yields a graph that shows a dramatic decline in attention to the issue since 2011.
In April, when Sen. Amy Klobucher (D – Minn.) convened a hearing of the 19-member Joint Economic Committee on the problem of long-term unemployment in the United States, she was the only legislator in attendance at the hearing’s start. Eventually, three others joined her, perhaps not coincidentally, after a journalist tweeted a photo of the empty Congressional seats at the hearing.
This poor turnout and lack of interest in the issue of unemployment shown by members of Congress is not unprecedented.
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