Commentary: Jobs could be top priorty for Obama

Upon graduating from high school, I took a $1.50-an-hour summer job as a low-level grunt for a road construction firm in my hometown in Northeast Texas. It was hot, dirty and boring work, with long hours. I hated every minute.

The only thing I hated worse than that job was losing it. I was laid off after only a few weeks, becoming expendable when the company hired someone with more-advanced skills.

I was crushed — they didn’t need me anymore. Suddenly I wanted that detestable job back more than anything in the world. Forty-one years later, I still remember the painful sense of rejection.

That experience came to mind last week as I read about America’s increasingly bleak job picture. Employers shed 240,000 jobs in October, the 10th consecutive month of job losses, which total 1.2 million for the year.

That means we’re losing 120,000 jobs monthly. We should be gaining that many just to accommodate population growth.

The unemployment rate has risen to 6.5 percent, the highest in 14 years. Analysts say it could top 8 percent next year. There are 10.1 million unemployed workers and 6.7 million more laboring part time because they can’t find full-time jobs.

Things are a little better here in North Texas, but the outlook is worsening as a national recession looms, credit tightens, home foreclosures proliferate and employers slash jobs in fields ranging from helicopter manufacturing to retail sales.

To read the complete column, visit The Fort Worth Star Telegram.