Why aren’t employers hiring more workers? Why are so many people seeking work unable to find anything other than part-time positions or temporary employment? And that’s when they can find a job at all.
In short, what’s causing the continuing stagnation of the U.S. economy?
Former Sen. Phil Gramm observed in the Wall Street Journal the other day that we’ve had recessions before. But at this point in the cycle we should be roaring back. Had we followed the pattern of the previous 10 recessions, almost 12 million more people would be employed right now, producing additional goods and services worth more than $8,000 for every household in America.
So what gives?
Job Creators Alliance (JCA) is an alliance of business leaders who are focused on this very issue. These are employers who are in the trenches, facing the economy’s woes day in and day out. Two of them told Fox Morning News last week that the reasons for slow job growth boil down to basic common sense. (Fair disclosure: my wife Jeanette is the director of the organization.)
Think of it this way. When an employer hires a full-time worker, the employer thinks of the relationship as long term. During an initial training and learning period, the employer probably pays out more in wages and benefits than the company gets back in production. But over a longer period, the hope is to turn that around and make a profit.
When employers hire new employees, then, they are making a gamble. They are betting that over time, the economics of the relationship will pan out.
The problem in the current economy is that hiring new workers and committing to new production has become extremely risky. As the JCA folks explain, an employer who hires workers today has no idea what the company’s future labor costs will be. Or its building and facility costs. Or its cost of capital. Or its taxes.
What’s causing all this uncertainty? You guessed it. Nobody knows what is going to happen in Washington, D.C.
John C. Goodman is President of the Goodman Institute and a Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute. He is the author of the widely acclaimed book, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. The Wall Street Journal and National Journal, among other media, have called him the "Father of Health Savings Accounts.”