Now that we#8217;re not in a presidential election year, little attention seems to have been paid to the monthly jobs reports released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 9, 2005

And small wonder. They do not bode well.

In October, the U.S. economy created just 46,000 private sector jobs, 33,000 of which were in construction.

By the same token, U.S. corporations laid off 81,301 workers in October. You do the math.

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As economist Paul Craig Roberts noted in a column this week, “There is a great deal of meltdown inside the U.S. economy. Manufacturing is hollowed out. The decline in manufacturing means decline in the engineering and other professions that serve it.”

In the 21st century, Roberts writes, the U.S. economy has ceased to generate net new jobs in middle- and upper-middle-class professions. “This is a serious economic, social and problem that receives no attention.”

The cause of this meltdown, of course, is the trade imbalance with China and the outsourcing of good jobs to countries where labor is cheap. These jobs in steel, mining, automobile and other manufacturing, are the jobs that created the middle class in this country. They’ve been sold down the river to improve the bottom lines of corporations and we’re all suffering for it.

What does get our attention n energy prices. But a close look at the numbers shows energy should not be our top concern. Last year, Roberts cites, the U.S. imported $197 billion in goods and services from China and exported a mere $35 billion. This $162 billion trade deficit with China alone is 28 percent higher than America’s total oil import bill.

Our nation’s trade deficit has increased six fold since 1997. The resulting debt burden and loss of quality jobs is a far greater threat to America’s freedom than terrorists and its time Congress did something about it.

Housing and associated consumer spending have been driving our economy for years. If we continue on the present path, it’s only a matter of time before the U.S. consumer market dies from lack of income and purchasing power.

It’s time policymakers put the interests of the people, not to mention our nation, ahead of those of corporations who offshore jobs and dodge taxes while lavishing campaign contributions on politicians. American industry needs protection, fast, or it won’t be long before we lack the manufacturing capacity, or capacity to borrow enough, to fight the war on terror.