Creating Jobs: A Fork in the Road?

The great American philosopher Yogi Berra once offered this advice: When you come to a fork in the road….take it. When it comes to creating jobs — or not — it looks to me as though members of the administration and Congress have reached a fork in the road.

Last Friday we learned that the economy — in the midst of what at best has been a jobless recovery — added only 54,000 new jobs in May. And I read this, but can’t verify it. Of those 54,000 jobs, half were at McDonald’s. Here’s from a NYT article about the employment numbers:

The Labor Department reported on Friday that the nation added 54,000 nonfarm payroll jobs last month, after an increase of about 220,000 jobs in each of the three previous months. The gain in May was about a third of what economists had been forecasting. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, edged up to 9.1 percent from 9.0 percent in April.

“The economy clearly just hit a brick wall,” said Paul Ashworth, chief United States economist at Capital Economics. “It’s almost as if it came to a complete standstill.”

Oh, mama.

Other than the Inside the Beltway think tank policy wonks, it doesn’t appear that many have their shorts in a knot over this. We should. It means that 25 million Americans can’t find full-time work. Many more are working part time or are trying to cobble together a number of temporary assignments. Others have just dropped out of the job market altogether.

Glad I’m not running for re-election in 2012. I digress.

Here’s an interesting NYT article that adds some perspective on this mess: “Washington War of Ideas Overshadows Need for Jobs“:

A run of disappointing economic data, punctuated by Friday’s employment numbers, is emboldening Congressional Republicans in their standoff with the White House over the best way for the government to encourage growth.

Republicans said the slow pace of hiring in May underscored the need for sharp cuts in federal spending and regulation to spur corporate investment. They have refused to increase the debt ceiling, the maximum amount the government can borrow, without an agreement to make such cuts.

They argue that Democratic efforts to revive growth through public spending programs have failed as the economy remained weak and unemployment high almost two years after the end of the recession.

“You talk to job creators around the country like we have,” House Speaker John A. Boehner said Friday. “They’ll tell you the overtaxing, overregulating and overspending that’s going on here in Washington is creating uncertainty and holding them back.”

Democrats counter that Republicans are unnerving businesses by sowing uncertainty about the government’s willingness to pay its debts, and that immediate budget reductions would cut jobs and undermine growth.

Since the end of the recession in June 2009, private employers have added roughly a million jobs. During that same period, however, governments have cut 1.1 million jobs, underscoring the impact of reductions in public spending.

Hmm. Let’s see. Cut taxes and government spending and regulation with the expectation that the private sector will create jobs. Or provide billions more in federal government spending and stimulus.

Looks like we’ve reached a fork in the road.

By the way, I found out over the weekend that Her Royal Hotness, Pippa, is a runner. I included that gratuitous reference only to wake up the Internet search engines. See how easy it is to be a social media guru.

Go figure’.

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