Nonfarm employment grew by 431,000 last month. That's nice, but 411,000 of those new hires were temporary employees for the 2010 Census. But for that Census hiring, unemployment would have ticked all the way back up to 10 percent. Government is the only functioning sector of the economy.
Not sure what to do? Here's a tip. People need work and there's work to do. Put them together.
One in four bridges in the United States is "structurally deficient or functionally obsolete." One in three public schools is in condition bad enough "to interfere with the delivery of instruction." Every two minutes a significant water line bursts somewhere in America. There's plenty of work to do.
President Obama is proud of his proposed new 84 mile high speed rail line from Orlando to Tampa Bay, aiming for completion in four years. Meanwhile, China is building over 1000 miles of high speed track this year alone. There's plenty of work to do.
Yes, it costs money in the short term and yes our deficits are already high. But cutting is not the solution. The solution is growth. Put people to work. Turn them into back taxpayers, shoppers and builders. Reproduce the self-perpetuating cycle of economic success that made America great. That's how we solved the (larger) deficits after World War Two. That's how we can solve the (smaller) deficits today.
It's obvious and it's politically popular, yet we can't take even small steps in the right direction. State and local governments are going in the wrong direction, cutting back services and laying off school teachers to balance their budgets. We need Uncle Sam to step in, but he's running scared. He worships at the altar of deficits not jobs.
Still not sure what to do? We can get more specific.
Rep. George Miller's (D-Calif.) modest Local Jobs for America Act hires teachers instead of laying them off. It's been languishing in committee for months.
Rep. Charlie Rangel's (D-NY) American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act would raise revenue by closing loopholes under which American companies avoid taxes by moving profits offshore and under which billionaire hedge fund managers pay taxes at lower rates than their secretaries (or their kids' schoolteachers). It can't even get a vote in the House because representatives figure it can't get past the Senate anyway.
The AFL-CIO has a five step jobs plans to put rebuild our economy and put people back to work. The problem isn't knowledge; it's will.
PS: We will discuss this and more next week at our America's Future Now conference e. Nancy Pelosi will talk about our government and Richard Trumka will tell us how to make it work for us.
This post originally appeared at the Campaign for America's Future.