Put America back to work

A job postings board is shown at Central City Concern employment access center, in Portland, Ore. U.S. employers stopped adding jobs in August, an alarming setback for an economy that has struggled to grow and might be at risk of another recession. The government also reported that the unemployment rate remained at 9.1 percent. It was the weakest jobs report since September 2010. — AP PHOTO/RICK BOWMER

With Americans returning from the Labor Day weekend, President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidates this week offered various plans on how to put America back to work.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also offered its own jobs creation proposal.

A real job creations plan is urgently needed considering that the unemployment rate in the United States has been roughly 9 percent or above since the spring of 2009. The unemployment rate for African Americans has remained roughly at 16 percent or above.

The question is whether these various and vastly different proposals will actually create substantial number of jobs or are they being offered just to score political points.

The Economic Policy Institute offered a set of criteria for evaluating the various job creation proposals, which can be a valuable tool for Americans seeking to make sense of the various job plans.

The EPI’s criteria are:

• Will the policy make a real difference in job creation in the next 24 months?

• Is the policy effective and efficient?

• How is the policy funded?

• Is the policy scale appropriate to produce substantial number of jobs?

Any job creation plan put forth by President Obama, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and others must address the job crisis immediately and not take years to implement. Americans must be put back put back to work now and not some far off time in the future.

The policy must be effective and efficient in actually creating a significant number of jobs to seriously reduce unemployment.

A recent Associated Press article pointed out that previous job creation proposals have been inadequate.

“Lots of schemes have been tried or floated — first under Republican President George W. Bush and now under Democrat Obama. More than $2 trillion has been plowed into stimulus spending, loans and bailouts to banks, auto companies and other corporations, tax cuts for individuals and businesses, mortgage refinancing assistance and aid to state and local governments,” said AP.

“But so far, the needle has barely moved on unemployment, which has stayed near or above a frightening recession-level 9 percent for 29 months. It was 9.1 percent in August, same as the month before, with zero net gains during the month.”

The various job proposals offered are vastly different and there is no bipartisan consensus on any of them. The nation’s elected leaders are deeply divided on what to do.

The only area where there appears to be anything close to a consensus is the need for infrastructure jobs. Obama should focus on this major area of agreement where both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO agree. Obama should work to build a stronger consensus and then fight for a new urgently needed job creations policy on repairing the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure so Americans can get back to work.

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