|SITREP - December 2, 2011|
As I’m sure you saw, the monthly jobs numbers came out this morning and on the surface, delivered a pleasant surprise. The forecasters were expecting the unemployment rate to stand firm at about 9%, but due to a number of factors, the rate fell to 8.6%.
This is undoubtedly good news, but it’s not great news. The change in the rate was primarily a result of upward revisions of previous estimates, some significant hiring in certain industries, and people leaving the workforce. Here are the numbers: a total of 278,000 jobs were added and 315,000 people gave up looking. The two numbers combined make it look like a gain of 600,000 + jobs but that isn’t the case.
One big piece: a 50,000 + gain in retail hiring contributed heavily to the pop, but about half of those jobs are temporary. Factory payrolls, on the other hand, only increased by about 2,000.
What does all of this mean? We’ve still got a lot of work to do. Period.
Seeing the top line unemployment rate drop feels good because it is such a symbolic measure, but the real test is talking to Americans, not labor economists. You can’t easily bottle this into a formula or a report, but when you talk to your neighbors and they say their son has gotten back to work and it looks like he and his wife are going to keep their home, that’s when you know we’re back on the right track. When you talk to a small business owner and they say their new credit line was approved and their going to go ahead and buy that new machine press, that’s when you know we’re back on the right track.
I’m not sure about you, but that’s not what I’m hearing from people yet. And when I talk to my colleagues up here about what they’re hearing back home, they say the same thing.
So, we keep on pushing. By the end of today, we will have 25 “jobs bills” sitting in the Senate – no debate, no committee action, no vote. I say “jobs bills” because I get a little frustrated with the way the politicians up here talk about them. I know it’s just a term, but there isn’t a piece of legislation in the world that will create jobs all by itself. There are policy decisions that can help facilitate the creation of jobs, but we can’t just pass some magic set of words and poof, everything is the way we think it should be.
That’s how a lot of people up here approach the situation and I think it is a big reason for why they haven’t been able to turn it around thus far. It honestly just seems like they’ve been in the Washington bubble so long, they’ve sort of forgotten how things really work back in the real world. That’s the kind of mindset that leads you to make pronouncements like “if we pass the ‘Stimulus’ it will keep the unemployment rate below 8%.”
No it won’t. And if you talked to a small business owner in Brooksville or New Port Richey, they’d tell you that.
In any case, the jobs report out this morning is better news than not, but before we all start running around patting ourselves on the back, let’s stay focused on what we need to do to get the real America back on its feet.
Below is the list of bills we passed this week. Given the discussion above, the last two are of particular note. More to come next week. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns. And as always, please feel free to forward this along to friends and family. I value your input – the more the better.
1) H.R. 1801 - Risk-Based Security Screening for Members of the Armed Forces Act(Sponsored by Rep. Chip Cravaack / Homeland Security Committee)
2) H.R. 2465 - Federal Workers Compensation Modernization and Improvement Act(Sponsored by Rep. John Kline / Education and the Workforce Committee)
3) H.R. 3012 - Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act (Sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz / Judiciary Committee)
4) H.R. 2192 - National Guard and Reservist Debt Relief Extension Act of 2011(Sponsored by Rep. Steve Cohen / Judiciary Committee)
5) H.R. 3094 - Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act (Structured Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. John Kline / Education and the Workforce Committee)
6) H.R. 3463 - To reduce Federal spending and the deficit by terminating taxpayer financing of presidential election campaigns and party conventions and by terminating the Election Assistance Commission (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Gregg Harper / House Administration Committee / Ways and Means Committee)
7) H.R. 527 - Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2011 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith / Judiciary Committee / Small Business Committee)
8) H.R. 3010 - Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith / Judiciary Committee)