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Reason Foundation

No Job Growth, So What to Do About 9.1%

Anthony Randazzo
September 2, 2011, 9:30am

Nonfarm payrolls—the basic measure of employment in the United States—did not grow in August. Even though there were 17,000 new jobs added to the private sector, a similar number came off federal, state, and local government payrolls for net zero growth. This is the worst jobs number since September of 2010, the last time we had a net loss of jobs, and the unemployment rate stayed at 9.1 percent. To make it worse, numbers for June and July were both revised downward by a third, with 58,000 less jobs than previous estimates for the two months had suggested. Oh, and average weekly earnings fell $2.61 to $652.25 in August.

Next week the President plans to give a big jobs speech, though he should be aware up front that nothing can be done quickly to this ship around. We need several hundred thousand new jobs each month in order for the unemployment rate just to start falling—unless people leave the labor force in droves, which wouldn't make for a real jobs recovery. 

On Monday we will have a column titled "The Jobs Speech President Obama Should Give" that will outline our view on what can be done. But as a preview, we'll note the following:

Again, we'll have a lot more on Monday, so check back. 

In the meantime, as another preview, I will point you to Jon Huntsman, republican candidate for president, and the jobs plan that he released yesterday. It isn't perfect, but few things are. The ideas in the plan though are very similar to many that we will propose. And it is the best thing to come out of the GOP so far: Huntsman—A Time to Compete.

The Wall Street Journal also gushed over the Huntsman plan, which could help to give some life to the campaign of the former Utah governor and ambassador to China. It is worth reading and then comparing to what Obama says next week. 

Anthony Randazzo is Director of Economic Research

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