Job creation is all the rage, as the national unemployment rate hovers north of 9% and joblessness in certain pockets of the country are even higher—here in California unemployment is sitting at a painful 11.8%. While politicians are scrambling yet again to come up with ways to stimulate job growth, the reality is that there aren’t many tools left for governments to employ…in order to get people employed. On the national scene President Obama is readying fairly sizable jobs legislation for Congress in September that will include money for refurbishing schools, rebuilding infrastructure and tax credits for businesses that start hiring workers. The plan is ambitious, and the president has hinted that it will also include deficit reduction measures to revive his effort for a “grand bargain” on narrowing the federal debt—the measure is likely to include extensions on the payroll tax credit and extension of unemployment benefits. Does it have any chance at making it through a hostile GOP-controlled House of Representatives, and even if it does, can it work? Here in California Gov. Jerry Brown is getting in on the jobs fun, appointing a “jobs czar” who formerly worked at Bank of American and GMAC, with the mission of being a go-between for business, labor leaders and the state government. Regulation reform, legislation and executive actions are all on the table to stimulate job creation in California, but again, how much can realistically be done? It’s become a political necessity for our elected leaders to take on some kind of jobs platform but is this anything more than good intentions and scant options?
Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at the Center for Budget & Policy Priorities; former chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden & director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class
Brad Kemp, director of research, Beacon Economics