Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009 | 2:05 a.m.
A sustained economic recovery will not be possible unless something is done soon to address the nation’s double-digit unemployment rate. Keeping in mind that our economy is driven by consumer spending, it stands to reason that people with jobs spend more money than people who are unemployed.
When President Barack Obama convenes a jobs summit Thursday at the White House with leaders from business, labor and academia, emphasis should be placed on creating short-term employment for the millions of Americans who have been unable to find work as this country emerges from a deep recession.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist who is expected to attend the forum, wrote in a column reprinted in Tuesday’s Las Vegas Sun that it is time for an emergency jobs program. We couldn’t agree more.
One plan worth considering comes from the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit Washington think tank that focuses on low- and middle-income Americans. The institute proposes that the federal government spend $40 billion over each of the next three years to help place 1 million people in public service jobs.
The institute also proposes tax credits for employers who create jobs, increased spending on transportation and schools, financial relief for state and local governments, and greater support for unemployment compensation, COBRA health coverage and nutrition assistance.
All of these ideas make sense, especially at a time when the private sector has not yet shown signs that it is ready or willing to go on a hiring binge.
One impediment to hiring is that small businesses, which create most of the nation’s new jobs, continue to have difficulty obtaining bank loans to expand their operations. While the Obama administration has taken steps to address this issue, forum participants should be prepared to discuss creative ideas that small businesses can use to immediately expand their workforces.
The issue of job creation is too important to relegate to one forum, though. We would urge the administration to use its influence to advocate policies that will help put an end to high unemployment.