Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Earlier this month, the BLS released the unemployment update for February: "The number of unemployed persons (13.7 million) and the unemployment rate (8.9 percent) changed little in February." In addition to the 13.7 million people unemployed, there were 8.3 million part-time workers who would like to be employed full-time. Add to the current 16.4 million unemployed or underemployed people another 2.7 million people who are marginally attached to the labor force, up from 2.5 million a year earlier. "These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work," notes the BLS press release, "and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey."

Total Americans unemployed, underemployed or discouraged: 19.1 million.

On top of the turbulent world affairs, increasing inflation, and continued un- and underemployment, there is the additional psychological overhang of the current budget battles in Washington and many state capitols. The atmosphere just keeps getting rougher and rougher.

These unsettling facts are reflected in the results released by Gallup last Tuesday. Gallup's Economic Confidence Index "hit -31 in the week ending March 20 -- its worst weekly level of 2011 and matching the comparable week a year ago."

This drop is due to a decline in the number of Americans who believe that the economy is getting better. "Thirty-two percent of Americans said the economy is 'getting better' during the week ending March 20, a slight decline from the 34 percent of the prior two weeks. Fewer Americans currently feel the economy is improving than held that expectation a year ago, when 35 percent said things were getting better."

During these turbulent times, our country is in need of a pilot who is experienced and able to help the nation land safely amid rough times.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.