The jobs numbers and uncertainty
For the past few months, the GOP has been arguing that the jobs numbers are grim because of the policy uncertainty caused by Barack Obama's radical legislative agenda. So, do today's numbers provide support for that?
Well, no. The private sector added almost 70,000 jobs. Now, it's possible that they would have added more new jobs in the absence of the Obama agenda. But then you look at where the jobs came from: The largest gains were in the health-care sector, where 28,000 jobs came online. Health-care reform doesn't appear to be scaring that industry out of hiring, which is as you'd expect, as the bill makes demand for the services more, rather than less, likely.
This doesn't decisively prove that policy uncertainty isn't a problem -- you can't prove a negative -- but it's more evidence that it's hard to find evidence for the argument. Meanwhile, the economy as a whole actually lost jobs, as 114,000 Census positions expired and 6,000 other government workers were let go atop that. There's no uncertainty about what's happening there -- strapped state governments are cutting back -- and there doesn't appear to be much interest in addressing the problem.
So on the one hand, we're having a debate about what to do about private-sector jobs that's totally disconnected from the evidence. On the other hand, we're largely ignoring public-sector job losses, perhaps because it's obvious what we should do about that but Congress doesn't have the votes or the energy to do it.
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