Unemployment in 1933: 24.9%
Unemployment in 1937: 14.3%
Unemployment in 1938: 19%
Unemployment in 1942: 5%
These statistics from the Historical Statistics of the United States clearly show that the New Deal dramatically lessened joblessness from Roosevelt’s election in 1932 until his second term; then began to climb when FDR retreated to a more conservative path; then finally ended because of war spending in World War 2.
Sensing the return of a structure crisis, Roosevelt proposed an “economic bill of rights” in his 1944 State of the Union address. Roosevelt died and his proposed domestic agenda was subordinated to seventy years of Cold War military spending. (See the fine history by Obama adviser Cass Sunstein, The Second Bill of Rights: FDR’s Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More Than Ever, 2004)
Needless to say, spending on spies and electronic battlefields in the Long War on Terrorism will not resolve our unemployment crisis, and sending hundreds of thousands of Americans into ground wars is not an option.
Civilian economic development – investment in green jobs, infrastructure, education, health care, tax credits for job creation – is the only path to a full employment economy.