On the morning of May 8, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the unemployment rate for April.
The report noted that the economy produced 223,000 jobs last month, so the unemployment rate fell from 5.5 percent the previous month to 5.4 percent.
When the stock market opened about an hour later, the Dow Jones Industrial Average responded to the positive news by soaring 250 points, or 1.4 percent.
Certainly, that 5.4 percent of American workers remain unemployed is not a small matter. That means millions of people lack the ability to earn a living. But things could be worse – much worse.
The example closest to our hearts is of course, is Greece, where the average unemployment rate over the last five years is about 25 percent. And the additional painful fact is that the chances of those people finding a job in the near future are slim.
Unemployment, then, remains the main focus of the economic crisis. And especially youth unemployment, which is almost double the overall average.
In order for unemployment to be reduced, new businesses must be generated and existing firms must resume hiring. But for that to happen reforms are required, like those the Troika – among others – insist upon, especially changes in outdated labor laws.
Otherwise, there will not be serious foreign investment in Greece, nor will local businesses start hiring. Rather, more will shut down.
Greece is not the only country with an arcane economic structure. There are other EU countries in similar boats – especially in Southern Europe – but because they have implemented more changes, they are already in the process of overcoming the crisis by creating new jobs.
At the end of the day, therefore, this is the dialogue that should have been taking place in Greece: how can jobs be created, on the basis of meritocracy and business criteria?
Government ’s biggest responsibility – other than the protection of the nation’s territorial integrity – is the creation of conditions that will lead to job growth, especially among the nation ’s young men and women.