Welcome to “Recovery Summer” where our nation’s elected leaders have launched a public relations campaign designed to reassure the American public that the U.S. economy is on the road to recovery.
At the heart of the program are ten new “major projects” that will represent the next phase of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (more colloquially known as the “stimulus” plan). The taxpayer-funded program is being touted as a big jobs creator – 600,000 in the next hundred days, according to a June, 2008 statement from WhiteHouse.gov.
But the first 100 days of the Recovery Act yielded very few jobs – about 150,000 U.S. jobs “created or saved,” according to White House statistics. But many of the jobs created were temporary ones, with the U.S. Census one of the few organizations hiring in great numbers.
It gets worse. The Brookings Institute estimates that, right now, a “jobs gap” exists in the U.S. that stands at 11.3 million. That gap indicates the number of jobs it would take to return to pre-recession U.S. employment levels. “How long will it take to erase this gap,” the institute asks in a July 2 research paper entitled “June’s Employment Numbers Highlight America’s Increasingly Distressed Communities.”
“If future job growth continues at a rate of roughly 208,000 jobs per month, the average monthly job creation for the best year for job creation in the 2000s, it would take 136 months (more than 11 years),” says Brookings. “In a more optimistic scenario, with 321,000 jobs created per month, the average monthly job creation for the best year in the 1990s, it would take over 57 months (almost 5 years).”
That scenario doesn’t include “saved” jobs, if that’s even measurable – it’s just about jobs that need to be created to close that jobs gap.
Maybe that’s why more and more Americans aren’t buying any talk of recovery – at least a significant one. Consumer confidence is down - way down – this summer. According to the Conference Board, worries about jobs and the economy have driven the board’s monthly consumer confidence index down to 52.9 in June, the lowest level since March, 2010. Economists had already revised the May number downward to 62.7.