February Unemployment Numbers: America remains at 9.7% Unemployment...

Published March 5, 2010, 4:48 pm, CST

by Diane W. Collins


Arlington, VA - President Obama released a statement on the current unemployment report today while visiting OPOWER, a small business engaged in the production of smart energy technology. The President recognized the fact unemployment remains at 9.7% and briefly mentioned the 36,000 who reportedly lost their jobs in February blaming the losses to some degree on the severe weather the nation had suffered.


The President went on to say unemployment is the reason

his "immediate priority" is to help the private sector and small businesses put people back to work. He talked about the extension of unemployment benefits he recently signed into law as a "temporary step" saying it would last about a month. The President said he had asked congress to extend benefits through the year. (As we all know from the contentious PAYGO debate last week, the current extension adds $10B to the deficit.) The President continued, "Job measures that cut taxes, increase lending, and incentivize expansion for businesses large and small," are what he has asked Congress to work on passing. He said the employers payroll tax cut "for every person hired this year," and the ability to "write off expenses for new equipment" were measures he endorsed to promote jobs.


Now, compare the above "sunshine, butterflies and rainbows" campaign approach to the serious business assessment of leaders who have worked with small to medium businesses (SMBs) for years and understand the reasons for unemployment. One such leader is Rep. Kevin Brady, (R-TX). According to Rep. Brady (R-TX) in comments today before the Joint Economic Committee

(of which he is the ranking Republican member) we should look a little closer at the unemployment numbers. If we exclude the hiring of temporary census workers, payroll employment fell at about 51,000 not 36,000 jobs.


The unemployment rate remains unchanged at 9.7% but is not going down as promised with the enactment of the first "stimulus," The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, according to Rep. Brady. Further, the number of discouraged workers rose to 1.2M, a series high. A discouraged worker, in economic terms, is a person of legal employment age who is not actively seeking employment. This is usually due to the fact that an individual has given up looking or has had no success in finding a job, hence the term "discouraged."


Continuing, Rep. Brady recognized the Administration's attempt to blame the recent storms in the Northeast for the poor unemployment report but the poor report, according to Rep. Brady is due to a "blizzard of bad policy, high taxes, healthcare mandates, and dangerous levels of debt." According to the Congressman, "Uncertainty in America is palpable." Rep. Brady pointed to this as the real reason companies aren't hiring. Rep. Brady continued, "...And, with two-thirds of the original stimulus left unspent, it is ludicrous to call for a second stimulus (jobs bill)." Rep. Brady recently did his own research and asked a number of SMBs for their opinion. Reportedly, they said the payroll tax credit would do nothing to encourage them to hire. "Dangerous, punishing tax proposals" based on the President's policy of "blame-onomics" are causing uncertainty in America. "The best stimulus... Congress should adjourn for the rest of the year," according to Rep. Brady.










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