October 10, 1982 – Unemployment, Reaganomics And The Tylenol Scare
October 10, 1982 – An interesting week and in 1982, October 10th came on a Sunday. What sort of week was it? Jobs and the Economy were the constant. The numbers released by the Labor Department this week were bad; 10.1% was the number given for unemployment during the month of September, with some economists factoring in the unemployed who have given up the search, the number was estimated at between 14-15%. Dire numbers all around and the worst since 1940 – 11.3 million Americans who were out of work couldn’t land a job. The rise of 450,000 jobless since August came mainly from adult men, making it the highest unemployment figure since The Great Depression. The especially hard-hit industries were Construction and manufacturing. The number of Americans giving up looking for work reached a new high; 1.5 million. Combined with 6.5 million wanting full time work but having to settle for part time jobs.
The silver lining came in the form of inflation and interest rates going down, according to Treasury Secretary Donald Regan who said that the numbers were a call to strengthen the solution. President Reagan got the news while campaigning in California. His reaction was; he’d take responsibility for the 2.7% rise in unemployment since taking office, just as long as Democrats took responsibility for the other 7.4%. Union leaders expressed outrage that the unemployment figures represented a national disgrace and a human tragedy. And House Speaker “Tip” O’Neil called for emergency hearings on the unemployment problem. The fault, the Democrats said, was Reaganomics – while the GOP said the fault lay with Jimmy Carter. Finger pointing flourished, and the Stock Market scored new highs.
Meanwhile, the Tylenol poisoning scare was continuing. Investigators in the Chicago area were trying to piece together the mystery of who would lace Tylenol tablets with Cyanide, killing some 7 people during the past week. The McNeil Consumer Products Company, which makes Tylenol for Johnson & Johnson, ordered all Tylenol products removed from store shelves nationwide. As a result, a government taskforce was formed to make packaging more tamper-proof in the future. Even so, the stories and the continued incidents of poisoning throughout the country were getting everybody fearful this thing wasn’t going to go away anytime soon.
And that’s just a small slice of what went on, this October 10, 1982 as reported by ABC Radio News and ABC World News This Week.