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Job seekers wait in line to enter the San Francisco Hire Event job fair in San Francisco. They could be in the wrong place.
Just in time for last week's terrible jobs report from the Labor Department (150,000 new jobs expected, a mere 69,000 new jobs added, and that's U-G-L-Y), American Enterprise Institute resident scholar and economist Aparna Mathur wrote a piece about the bad numbers, arguing that they may not be something that we can easily blame on sluggish job creation:
Every month when the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the unemployment rate, the underlying assumption in the minds of most consumers of the report, is that firms created fewer jobs and therefore hiring was low. Less well understood is the idea that while the jobs exist, firms may be unable to find workers to fill those positions.
I called Mathur to explore this idea a bit more deeply. Bear in mind that AEI, based in Washington, D.C., is generally regarded as a conservative think tank. Their resident scholars will tend to stress market-based solutions, rather than relying on government to extract us from problems.
The video above is my conversation with Michael Rossi, whom Gov. Jerry Brown asked earlier this year to serve as Senior Advisor for Jobs and Business Development. Rossi's is an impressive guy with a formidable background in banking and business. During the course of our talk, which took place last month at the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management at the Claremont Graduate University, we discussed the California jobs crisis, Rossi's personal story, and some of his ideas for how California can — and will — remain competitive in the 21st century.
Be sure to take note of the moment when Rossi asks the audience what was the best infrastructure investment California ever made. The answer (hint: it's not a bridge or highway) says a lot about his priorities and what he believes is necessary to become a successful individual.
ANOTHER UPDATE: President Obama has pitched his jobs plan to Congress and the public and I've got a quick reaction. Some intriguing ambiguity about whether we'll get an infrastructure bank, a subject I've blogged about. An I-Bank would have some definite benefits for Southern California, where the infrastucture is a-crumbling and there are thousands of unemployed construction workers.
UPDATE: As promised, I took a closer look at Perry's argument that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme, and here's why.
And so it ends. On the economy, the frontrunners — Mitt Romney and Rick Perry — promoted their own jobs records and attacked each other. On balance, Romney provided a more focused message on the country's future global competitiveness, which makes sense given his experience with Big Finance. This should resonate with Southern California, given the region's exposure to international trade. Perry stuck to his guns on Social Security and his insistence that it's a Ponzi scheme (which it isn't). This was a risky move, but one that should please his base. However, it also created a distraction from Topic A, which for many Americans is unemployment. "A monstrous lie to our kids" Perry called it, while if what he really wanted to do was talk about reforms to entitlement spending, he could have avoided this radical argument (although he's been on the record with this one for a while).