See PART 2 for Solutions
The Labor Department released a dismal jobs report for August 2011 on Friday, September 2, the weakest such report since September 2010. The United States’ economy did not lose any jobs in the past month. It also did not create any.
This illustration by the Washington Monthly displays employment figures for presidents Bush and Obama as they dealt with the recession. The Obama administration clearly oversaw a reversal of the accelerating trend of job losses seen under President George W. Bush, but the cause of the reversal remains unclear. Obviously the stimulus spending helped to stave off falling into the abyss, but it was not nearly enough to form a recovery. The economy is still heading downward, it is just falling more slowly today than it was three years ago.
The unemployment rate in August 2010 stood at 9.6 percent. Today that rate is steady at 9.1 percent. This positive move is noteworthy, unfortunately it may be little more than a moral victory. Yes there are nearly 1 million fewer unemployed today than a year ago, but that sort of progress is not nearly good enough.
The previously mentioned stimulus did its job, it kept America from falling over the edge. However, now that it has run out and there is no longer any political will in Washington to organize another job-creation initiative, the modest gains of the last two stimulus years will likely be reabsorbed into the generally broken and sputtering American economy.
A detailed report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics makes this point very clear. Government employment decreased by the same number that private employment increased. A major reason for the drop in government jobs is the obstructionist policies of Republicans in Washington. Another reason is the death of the stimulus.
The stimulus ran out of money this summer and the projects it was actively funding shut down. With no more money on the horizon new projects disbanded. All across the nation small scale job creation was stalled by a lack of funding. Employment expansion in June was lower than in May, July was lower than June, and August was the lowest of them all. Following this trend, the outlook for September 2011 is the first negative month for employment since February of 2010.
The only sure way of creating jobs in this economy today is with a direct government stimulus. Washington is the only economic actor with the power, logistical capacity, and funding to put money directly into the pockets of the real job creators: the American people.
The only way to create jobs is to create a jobs program directed toward investing in America’s future.