The number of initial jobless claims was lower than week (ending 2/7) than it was last week, but 623,000 people lost their jobs and filed for benefits last week. In addition, 4.8 million people received unemployment benefits for the week before that (ending 1/31, most recent data available.)
January, 2009 was the worst month for job losses since December, 1974. The percentage of unemployed in the US is a staggering 7.6%. This will only rise.
President Obama said in his press conference on Monday:
Luckily, donations poured in to that food bank in Elkhart, IL, after Obama's mention.
However, all the other food banks didn't get a plug in Obama's speech.
All the food banks in this country are going to be swamped with requests for help. If you can spare some coin right now, please donate it to your local food bank.
In the meantime, please consider planting a garden. In a previous post, I discussed the theory behind planting a garden to help people and the economy.
1. The produce will immediately give food to people who need it, either directly if you know someone out of work of indirectly through a food bank.
2. In addition, the production of food, even small-scale production, will add value to the economy.
3. Also, "kitchen gardening" is one of the greenest of activities. The industrial production of food produces nearly a third of the US's greenhouse gas emissions. It takes a lot of gas to truck a strawberry up here from Chile.
4. Plus, gardening is heavily practiced in the "Blue Zones" where people live the longest. It's light, low-impact, and sustained exercise. It encourages the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Enlightened self-interest, anyone?
If you don't have land, consider container gardening or borrowing property from someone else. I grew a bumper crop of cucumbers, herbs, and butter lettuce on a eight-foot-square balcony a few years ago.