On Thursday, the Commerce Department reported that the US economy shrank for the second quarter in a row, bringing it into a “technical recession.”
The economic contraction is being accompanied by a series of layoffs that threatens to become a torrent as the economy slows further. This month, more than 30,000 layoffs occurred in the technology sector alone. Last week, Ford announced 8,000 layoffs, heralding a further bloodbath in the auto industry.
Amid the swirl of economic data, it is always necessary to understand that these numbers are the abstract expression of underlying social and class forces, that “the economy” is not some kind of machine but is based on definite social relations and operates through them. This is particularly necessary when considering the latest economic data.
A debate has now broken out in the media and financial commentary circles as to whether this “technical recession”—defined as two…