Although we are seeing small gains in private-sector employment, the gains aren’t doing much to put a dent in the nation’s high unemployment rate. The news is about to get grimmer, unfortunately, as the 2009 Census poverty figures are scheduled to be released this week.

According to an article on the MSNBC.com website, the poverty rate is expected to increase from 13.2 percent to near 15 percent. If a 15 percent poverty rate is realized, it would be the largest one-year jump in the number of families living in poverty since 1959. The prolonged, high unemployment rate is undoubtedly contributing to the anticipated spike in the poverty rate.

President Obama continues to address the nation’s unemployment crisis as he tours the country. Last week while speaking at Cuyahoga Community College in Parma, Ohio, the president acknowledged that economic growth has been “painfully slow” while reminding everyone that he inherited this economy and it was in much worse shape when he got it.

“But the truth is progress has been painfully slow.  Millions of jobs were lost before our policies even had a chance to take effect.  We lost 4 million in the six months before I took office.  It was a hole so deep that even though we’ve added jobs again, millions of Americans remain unemployed.  Hundreds of thousands of families have lost their homes.  Millions more can barely pay the bills or make the mortgage.  The middle class is still treading water, and those aspiring to reach the middle class are doing everything they can to keep from drowning.” Source: The White House

Since the “Bush tax cuts” have been a hot news item lately, it is no surprise that they also came up during Obama’s Ohio speech. President Obama supports the middle class tax cuts but chastises the Republican Party for wanting to keep the tax cuts for the wealthy. “But the Republican leader of the House doesn’t want to stop there.  Make no mistake:  He and his party believe we should also give a permanent tax cut to the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.”

So now it is Monday morning and we are one week closer to both the mid-term elections and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. Will the cuts for families making under $250,000 per year stay? Will these cuts come with a few strings attached, specifically the passage of tax cuts for those earning over $250,000 per year? What effect will the tax cuts have on the unemployment rate?

Unfortunately no one can say for sure but while politicians banter about the pros and cons of continuing the tax cuts, millions of unemployed Americans are left wondering when more new jobs will start pouring into the economy.

Photo: HowardLake/Flickr