This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the jobs report for December 2013. The results were discouraging. A few lowlights:
- The replacement rate is 150,000. The country added fewer than half that many – 74,000. It takes over 200,000 jobs added per month to indicate a strong economy.
- The unemployment rate went from 7 percent to 6.7 percent largely because, as Ed Morrissey pointed out, over 500,000 people decided to stop looking for work.
- The president of a staffing firm says jobs exist – but many people don’t want low-paying jobs, especially with the existence of unemployment insurance.
There are few good angles to this jobs report. Ed’s assessment shines light on today’s takeaway: America’s economy is still facing a severely uphill battle.
So what can Congress do in 2014 to help improve the economy? First and foremost, it should offset new spending with cuts elsewhere in the budget. Specifically, any new unemployment insurance payments should be offset.
Second, it should start spending less. Well over 10% of the budget is lost to duplication, waste, fraud, and abuse. Taking measures to fix these problems would do a great deal to lessen the growth of the national debt – a debt that has been harming the nation’s growth for years.
Third, entitlement reform should occur, instead of the terrible budget deal created last month. We need real reforms that make Social Security and Medicare affordable, not promises of reforms that might happen decades from now.
November and December of last year were good, solid months for job growth in America. However, we clearly have a long way to go before the economy is providing the jobs necessary for our country to prosper. Spending less and enacting tax and entitlement reform would be significant moves in the right direction.