Commentary Magazine


Nervous Employers, Obtuse Politicians

The Wall Street Journal editors observe:

Sooner or later the economic recovery will start creating new jobs, we promise. But it sure is turning out to be a long, agonizing wait. The economy has been growing for at least six months, amid high productivity growth and rebounding corporate profits, yet employers still shed a net 85,000 jobs in December. . . Perhaps most dismaying is that nearly four in 10 (39.8%) of the jobless have been unemployed for six months or more. The longer these Americans stay out of the workplace, the more their career prospects will suffer in an economy that rewards ever-higher skills.

As the editors remind us, the American economy is resilient and will rebound, but the pace of that rebound and the speed with which employers add to their payrolls is influenced by policy in Washington and the state capitals. And bad policy — or the threat of bad policy — takes its toll. So long as the Democrats in Washington refuse to give up their ultra-liberal agenda, “no one can be sure what they will pay for energy (rising oil prices, cap and trade) or new regulation (antitrust), how high their taxes will rise, and how much each new employee will cost (health care).” The Beltway set seems bent on making the employment environment more treacherous while they trot out this or that new program. Perhaps if they just promised to do nothing, employers might breathe a sigh of relief and start to hire again.

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