The Financial Times, out of London, starts a series today, “Is America Working?” that examines “the US jobs crisis” .

This first part may not break any new ground for those whose job it is to study what’s happening under our collective noses, but it can often be helpful to see things from more of a bird’s view. It’s by Edward Luce, the FT’s Washington bureau chief.

This first part, which asks, “Can America regain (its) most dynamic labour market mantle?” focuses on the disappearance of the middle class at a time “when US income inequality rivals that of Mark Twain’s ‘Gilded Age’.”

“America used to be exceptional. Postwar, it maintained lower unemployment than the Europeans and a higher rate of jobs turnover, enabling it to get away with more meagre benefits; ‘a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay’ was within the grasp of most. That gave America a booming middle class that until recently was the most important engine of global demand.

“No longer. Today, somewhat remarkably, US joblessness is higher than in much of Europe.”

Today’s piece pulls together a number of issues and blunt observations from analysts and those still involved in industry. Luce deconstructs our economic problems in a way that’s fascinating, and sobering

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