Sorry, folks, but I do not see any meaningful evidence of a stimulus package, that vaunted $700B jump-start to the economy. I deplored it back then … I think “mud sandwich” was the term I used. Some of us pointed out that Congress' own calculations showed that most of it would not be effective until 12-18 months elapsed … and now the evidence is in. I've also referred to it as another government boondoggle because there is such an obscure line of sight and accountability for the results of the program, that you could just be sure it wouldn't have the desired results. If you created a program like this for your business, you wouldn't have either a business or a job.
Even the NY Times editorialized recently about the lack of leadership on jobs. Here are some of the statistics they quoted which are sobering indeed; there's more but you get the gist:
- September was the 21st straight month of job loss – the longest unbroken stretch of losses since record-keeping began in 1939 – bringing to 7.2 million the number of positions that have been axed since December 2007. And that understates the damage. During the recession, the economy has failed to create another 2.7 million jobs that were needed simply to employ new workers – like high school and college graduates, immigrants and stay-at-home parents who want to go back to work.
- The unemployment rate for September – 9.8 percent – also understates the damage. It would have been higher but for the fact that 571,000 people dropped out of the work force last month – in general, it's assumed, because they've despaired of finding work. If they had kept looking, they would have been counted as unemployed.
- The combination of a rising unemployment rate and a quickening pace of labor-force dropouts is especially worrisome. In September, the employment rate for all workers – defined as the share of the population with a job – fell to 58.8 percent, its lowest level in more than 25 years. For adult men, who have been particularly hard hit by job loss in this recession, the employment rate fell to 67 percent, its lowest level since the government began keeping track in 1948. Before this recession, that rate had never dropped below 70.5 percent.
Sure, we keep hearing how much worse it would have been without the stimulus package, but to those unemployed … and as you can see, we're setting all kinds of records for unemployment, it's little solace. I don't think Congress really knows what to do … their latest reaction is to extend unemployment benefits. Sure, that's a necessary evil to help those who are suffering in this crushing economy … but that does NOT create jobs … it's only salve on those already unemployed but does nothing to get them jobs.
The saddest news? We get what we deserve because we elect our politicians and trust them to make sound decisions. Oops!