EYEAFRICA TV: Wisconsin, USA: There are alarming details behind the record low unemployment rate in the United States and the gap between the country’s rich and poor is also growing, according to a U.S. expert and official statistics.
President Donald Trump has touted the U.S. economy as being the greatest it has ever been – with an unemployment rate at record lows.
In Wisconsin, a state with an impressive manufacturing history from beer-making to motorbikes, a vast new manufacturing complex is being built for electronics maker Foxconn. Once completed, the company is promising to create some 13,000 jobs.
“Years ago, we were a very large manufacturing community and that took a little dip. And now with Foxconn coming here we are re-energized. Manufacturing is coming back,” said Matt Montemurro, President and CEO of Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce.
“I think it’s probably fair to say that there is a possibility that this enterprise and everything connected to it could actually change the trajectory of this region,” echoed Rob Ducoffe, Provost and Vice Chancellor at University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
Foxconn maintains that their vision for this huge facility remains on track and say it will open for business next year. But critics continue to question just how many people the company will employ once the building is completed. Even Wisconsin’s governor has said the company may in the end only employ some 1,500 people.
Steven Deller, an economist and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, even questions the national unemployment figures.
“Yes, they are employed, they are working but they are not working at their fullest potential. When you start to get beyond that simple initial unemployment rate and you start to get down into the details if you will, there is lots and lots of warning signs out there. There’s some difficulties with the economy,” he said.
Although the unemployment rate in Wisconsin is below four percent, income inequality continues to grow. It is a trend that is echoed across much of the U.S.. According to the U.S. Census Bureau figures, the gap between America’s rich and poor is now the largest it has been in more than 50 years of tracking.
Deller said it’s getting tougher and tougher to achieve the American dream of “if you work hard enough, you will succeed.”
Nationally, the concern over income inequality will remain a key issue for whoever is in the White House as the 2020 presidential election is just under a year away.