Beyond Our Nation's Jobs Problem

by Gerri Willis

A "Now Hiring" sign is seen in front of a McDonald's restaurant in FairOaks, Virginia April 19, 2011Do you remember what you were doing in June 2009 - a little more than two years ago? If you were like me, you were still worried about the economy - looking for some relief. But economists, go figure, actually believe that is the very moment when we left the great recession behind.

Most of us still don't believe the economy has made a big change for the better - according to a recent Gallup poll: 8 in 10 Americans say we're still in recession. And our household incomes tell the same story.

A study by two former Census Bureau officials say these incomes fell more in the two years following the end of recession than during the downturn itself.

They said inflation-adjusted income fell more than six and a half percent - to under $50,000 between June 2009 and June of this year.

During the recession - starting in December 2007 - household incomes fell less than half that! Why the significant drop?

The reports points to two big reasons. First: The hourly pay of employed people has failed to keep up with inflation. Meaning: As the cost of gas and food and other necessities rise, incomes have remained mostly stagnate.

Also: Many who lost their jobs during the recession are taking pay cuts just to get hired again.

One Princeton economist found - those who lost jobs and found work again are making on average 7.5% less now than with their old jobs.

It's no wonder we're feeling a growing anxiety about the economy. Some say Americans aren't capable of the kinds of austerity and self sacrifice that are necessary to turn the economy around.

Truth is we have already sacrificed. What's missing is leadership - President Obama has called for a jobs program that will cost $200,000 per job to implement.

Let's get some real experts in who can come up with real programs that will make a real change.

Willis Report Special Investigation

by Gerri Willis

Please join us Friday for a special Willis Report investigation on jobs in America. Where are the jobs? who's hiring and why, also who's not hiring and what's stopping them? Has America entered a new paradigm where high unemployment is the norm or even acceptable - like some European countries. What role is education playing and what, if anything, can (or even should) the federal government do to jump-start the job market? Can we restore America's competitiveness - and is increased immigration really the solution as many economists are suggesting? We'll investigate the story from all angles of public policy, regulation and private enterprise.. right down to what individuals are doing.

Please join us Friday 5pm ET on the Willis Report on the Fox Business Network.

Where are the jobs?

by Gerri Willis

It was the question House Speaker John Boehner posed at the start of his press conference this morning, but, frankly, who isn't asking that question today? The June jobs report isn't just disappointing, it's a disaster. We expected fewer public sector jobs. Much of the spike in government work came from the stimulus spending plus the bloat in public sector hiring of the early 2000s. But the true disappointment is in private sector jobs with just 57,000 new hires in the month.

Now, permabears like Nouriel Roubini are tweeting that the economy could stall by 2012 - which means he believes that the economy could dip again into recession (even though it feels like we never left it). Moreover, economist Mark Zandi predicting this morning that the White House will go for MORE stimulus spending, even though the track record on stimulus spending is poor, if not downright a disaster. And, Zandi should know - his projections and advice are closely followed by the Obama administration.

There is one thing that is working right now: Small business. This week's upbeat numbers from ADP - a payroll processing company - evidence that trend. Policy makers need to turn now to what can be done to encourage that sector. Our one best hope for this economy right now.

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