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Has America Become a Part-time Nation?

Even with more full-time positions, the pace of jobs creation is well short of what is needed. About 360,000 jobs additional jobs a month would lower the unemployment rate to 6% over three years, but that would require GDP growth in the range of 4% to 5%.

Stronger growth is possible. Four years into the Reagan recovery, after a deeper recession than President Obama inherited, GDP was advancing at a 5.1% annual pace and jobs creation was quite robust.

Factors contributing to the slow pace of recovery include the remaining large trade deficits on oil and manufactured products from China and elsewhere in Asia. Together, these are directly subtracting 4 million full-time jobs.

Absent U.S. policies to develop more oil offshore and in Alaska, and effectively confront Asian governments about their purposefully undervalued currencies and protectionism, the trade deficit will continue to tax growth and steal American jobs.

Dodd-Frank regulations make mortgages, refinancing, and home improvement loans much more difficult to obtain. Consequently, the recovery in housing construction, though welcomed, remains lackluster compared with past recoveries. In turn, that slows expansion in building materials, major appliances, furniture and other durable goods.

The high cost and slow pace of regulatory reviews are a constant complaint among businesses and curb investment spending, and Washington shows no signs of listening. Regulations to protect the environment and accomplish other goals should be subject to the same efficacy standards the market applies to commercial technologies -- regulatory assessments and enforcement are needed but must be delivered cost effectively and quickly to add genuine value.

Many businesses with overseas opportunities remain tentative about adding capacity and hiring workers in the United States. Instead, they look to Asia where government policies are more accommodating and prospects for growth remain stronger.

Without better trade, energy and regulatory policies, the pace of jobs creation won't pick up.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Professor Peter Morici, of the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, is a recognized expert on economic policy and international economics. Prior to joining the university, he served as director of the Office of Economics at the U.S. International Trade Commission. He is the author of 18 books and monographs and has published widely in leading public policy and business journals, including the Harvard Business Review and Foreign Policy. Morici has lectured and offered executive programs at more than 100 institutions, including Columbia University, the Harvard Business School and Oxford University. His views are frequently featured on CNN, CBS, BBC, FOX, ABC, CNBC, NPR, NPB and national broadcast networks around the world.
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