Cover Image: Paintings by Ronald Debs Depicting the Hunger March During Great Depression
By Ester Harding
The US Labor Department reports that the number of unemployment claims skyrocketed last week by 6.65 million, bringing the total number up to 10 million people filing for unemployment benefits over the past two weeks.
This high number does not even reflect the total number of unemployed workers, only those who have filed for unemployment. The number has doubled from last week and shows no signs of slowing down. The US is entering the New Depression, and while the ruling class is content to shovel the blame off onto COVID-19, they are the ones who are ultimately responsible for the current crisis.
As jobless rates explode, shattering the previous record, it becomes clear to many workers that they are living in a critical time for action. The US ruling class will not be able to stem the coming tide of rebellion; the political forecast can only mean riots.
Those with the lowest income have been hit the hardest. Every state has reported record breaking unemployment filings, with the largest numbers coming from Pennsylvania and Ohio, an area where de-industrialized urban centers are crumbling, earning the name ‘the Rust Belt.’
The spike in unemployment has hit the black community the worst, sitting at 19%, the unemployment rate is 2% greater than the national average. The unemployment rate in the US is now a staggering 17%, and growing faster than it ever has in history. During the Great Depression unemployment peaked above 24%.
With layoffs imminent in the oil and gas industries, capitalist economists are predicting that states like Louisiana will surpass the rates of unemployment previously seen in the Great Depression, reaching over 44%.
The economic crisis hit home for many as the unemployment website and phone lines crashed due to increased traffic, leaving many without benefits, or the ability to file for them.
Wages will go down, and more unemployed workers will be forced to compete for these reduced wages, giving bosses the appearance of leverage. The working class must put solidarity with one another at the forefront and rise to the occasion. There are now more than 10 million workers recently cast out of production, this can and must be turned into a mighty force for revolution. If revolutionaries do not find creative ways to provide organization and leadership to the masses of people, the people will rise in rebellion regardless.
With regard to the rising rebellion of the masses, the great revolutionary leader Chairman Mao Zedong once said, “There are three alternatives. To march at their head and lead them? To trail behind them, gesticulating and criticizing? Or to stand in their way and oppose them? Every Chinese is free to choose, but events will force you to make the choice quickly.”
His words come into focus today.