Nation hasn’t forgotten jobs crisis

A job seeker holds employment papers as she attends career fair in West Palm Beach, Nov. 7, 2013.
A job seeker holds employment papers as she attends career fair in West Palm Beach, Nov. 7, 2013.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
The nation’s jobs landscape has obviously improved since the height of the Great Recession and the unemployment rate is at its lowest point in four-and-a-half years.
 
But when it comes to public attitudes, Americans still consider jobs and unemployment the nation’s most important issue.
Americans have a new No. 1 problem. Nearly one in four Americans mention jobs and unemployment as the most important problem facing the country, up from 16% in January. […]
 
Prior to last fall, either jobs or the economy had led the “most important problem” list going back to February 2008, and these two have regained their top spots in the Feb. 6-9 poll.
In order, the Gallup poll found the following rankings: (1) 23% said jobs are the most important national problem; (2) 20% said the economy in general; (3) 18% said government/politicians; (4) 15% said health care; and (5) 8% said the deficit.
 
Given results like these, maybe the political world could consider renewing a conversation about job creation?
 
Ezra Klein summarized the issue nicely in a column last week.
The U.S. has been in a jobs emergency since at least 2008. The cause of the crisis – too little demand – isn’t mysterious, and neither are the solutions. We could invest in infrastructure to create construction jobs. We could give tax breaks to employers who hire new workers. We could restore the payroll tax cut to workers so they have more money to spend. We could help state and local governments hire back some of the employees they laid off during the recession. Macroeconomic Advisers, an economic consulting firm, found that the American Jobs Act, which contained many of these policies, would have created 2 million jobs.
 
But in recent years, these policies have been either blocked or canceled by congressional Republicans.
Heck, simply extending federal unemployment benefits would add about 200,000 jobs to the U.S. economy this year, but GOP senators keep filibustering extensions and the GOP-led House has no interest in even considering the idea.
 
With congressional Republican leaders already making clear that no meaningful legislation will be considered for the rest of the year – it’s only mid-February, but apparently the rest of 2014 will be uneventful – it’s best to keep expectations low. But if Congress wanted to address the nation’s top issue, it’d be fairly easy to do so.
 
Some issues are deeply complicated and difficult to address. Job creation isn’t one of them – we know what works in lowering unemployment and putting people back to work; we just need the political will to exist on Capitol Hill.
 

Unemployment

Nation hasn't forgotten jobs crisis