America could be headed toward another Great Depression unless youth unemployment rates are drastically improved, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao tells Newsmax.TV exclusively.
The rates among the young stand at 24 percent, she said, close to the level of general unemployment during the 1930s.
“The Great Depression saw unemployment rates well in excess of 25 percent. While we are not there yet, the trend that we are currently following is very dangerous,” said Chao, the only Cabinet secretary to serve for the entire George W. Bush presidency.
“From 2001-09, when I was Secretary of Labor, the average unemployment rate was 5.2 percent. This administration is trying to get us accustomed to this new norm of over 8 percent, and that is so sad – 44 percent of the 14 million Americans who have been out of work are now characterized as long-term unemployed.
“What we need is not more rhetoric that divides us, we need this administration to act in the best interests of this country and create more jobs by lessening all this talk about taxes, decreasing regulations and having some kind of fiscal discipline.”
Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, spoke to Newsmax at the Hispanic Leadership Network’s Inspiring Action Conference in Miami recently.
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She attacked President Barack Obama’s policies, saying the current administration looks to Europe as the model for the American economy.
“We used to make fun of Europe because their unemployment rate was well in excess of 8 percent. Well, here we are today.
“Europe is not the model. We are now in a globalized economy and we’ve got to learn how to compete and we have to protect our own people.”
Figures out on Friday showed that the unemployment rate had fallen to 8.3 percent from 8.5 percent in January. But the “real unemployment” rate – which includes those who have become so discouraged they are no longer actively seeking work and part-time workers who would like full-time employment is still above 15 percent.
The figures also showed that a whopping 1.2 million people had dropped out of the workforce in one month, leaving the active labor force at 63.7 percent of the population, the lowest in 30 years. When Obama came into power that figure stood at 66.2 percent, figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show.
Chao said the president has to spend more energy on job creation and less on class warfare.
“It’s really unfortunate that amid all of our economic woes that the president doesn’t tackle the real reason why there is no job creation.
“The problem with this economy is that we are not creating jobs,” she added. “And we are not creating jobs because employers don’t have the confidence that this administration will understand what it takes to create jobs.
“Taxes are too high, there are too many regulations and we’re spending beyond our means. That is putting a dampening effect on job creation.”
She said too many laws and regulations are contradictory, confusing and add an extra, unnecessary level of bureaucracy to too many companies.
Chao claimed the real unemployment rate is now nearly 16 percent when those who have given up looking for work and part-time workers who want a full-time job are taken into account.
“We don’t need more laws or regulations. We need to enforce those that are on the books.
“To spark job creation we’ve got to get rid of all this regulatory burden on employers. Regulations are a form of tax on the employer.
But Chao said she is optimistic that with changes at the top at the next election things could turn around. “Elections have consequences,” she said. “This administration believes that a socialist model is the best economic model for our country and a great many Americans disagree as we saw in the November 2010 elections.
“We will have another chance as a people to come and express ourselves and give voice to our concerns in November of this year.”
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