President Obama's a pretty smart guy, but he made one big dumb mistake when he started promoting the fiscal stimulus package six months ago. He said it was all about jobs, jobs, jobs, and the making of jobs for the millions of Americans who had already lost them.
Unfortunately, jobs are the very last thing to recover when the economy takes a dive -- something Obama surely knew even as he was suggesting near-instantaneous job creation with the stimulus package.
While it might be nice for people to see improved corporate earnings reports and a healthier stock market by the end of this year, they're not really going to feel like Obama's delivering on his promises until they get their jobs back. Which will be ... well, according to White House Budget Director Peter Orszag, "some time" from now.
“Unemployment will lag somewhat,” Orszag told CNNChief National Correspondent John King, as the economy begins to turn around later this year.
“Firms — usually even after the economy begins to pick up again – they still remain reluctant to hire people for some period of time. So, the unemployment rate is going to remain elevated – too elevated and there are too many people who are suffering – for some period of time.”
This is not exactly what you want to hear when you've already been out of work for 7 or 8 months, run out your unemployment benefits, and lost your house. Oh well! that's just the way the modern economy works, according to folks in the know.
The recovery, then, given the circumstances, is likely to come not with job growth, but “a diminution in job loss,” as Mr. Hatzius put it. Like some other forecasters, he expects the economy to start growing by the end of the year.
Maybe that is already happening. But it is growth without jobs — yet another jobless recovery, like the last two, this time on a giant scale.
The few of us who will be able to score jobs in the future will either serve as wet nurses to an enfeebled and impoverished generation of Baby Boomers, or as indentured servants to the next generation of monsters who may grow up to spend as irresponsibly as their grandparents. Green shoots!