The Labor Department reported on Friday that another 85,000 jobs were lost in December. The unemployment rate remained at 10%, but, the “total jobless rate”, which includes those discouraged workers who are no longer looking for work, moved up to 17.3%. A perhaps even more revealing statistic is that the total labor force (those working, and those looking for work) in this country is now only 64.6% of working age Americans…the lowest it has been since 1985. Currently, 15.3 million Americans are out of work.
In the construction industry, we’ve seen a loss of 27,000 jobs in November, and 53,000 jobs in December. And, one third of those lost jobs were in heavy construction…the very industry that was a main target of the $789 billion Stimulus package passed last February. Our President touts the fact that the Stimulus bill will create 17,000 jobs in “green” technology at a cost of $2.3 billion. Using that as a bench mark, how many trillions would it take to create 15.3 million jobs for those currently out of work?
Curiously, although this country’s gross domestic product grew at a 5.4% rate in the last three months of 2009, we are still shedding jobs…we now have 7.2 million fewer jobs than we did in December, 2007. So, what is the problem? If our GDP increased, why is it that we are continuing to see more and more unemployment?
As with anything, there are several possible reasons. Many employers, rather than laying off employees, simply reduced their hours of work. So, for these employers, an increased demand doesn’t necessarily mean that more workers will be hired. Current employees are now working more hours to take up the slack.
But, I believe there is much more to this problem, and, that is government. Business doesn’t operate in a vacuum. Employers today are faced with policies emanating from Washington that can do nothing but impede growth. Under the proposed health care bill, virtually all employers will have to provide health care to their employees, or pay a tax. What will that cost an employer, and how will he or she be able to cover that cost? Cap and Trade looms. What will that do the cost of buying electricity to to power manufacturing plants, and, what “carbon” tax will have to be paid to even manufacture a product? With Congress claiming that it will shift its attention to the deficit this year, what increased taxes will have to be paid?
If this administration was truly concerned about “creating” jobs, it shouldn’t consider a Son of Stimulus, it should simply get out of the way…forget health care, forget cap and trade, and let capitalism work in an environment free from costly government intervention.