One of the pillars of my philosophy is that there are no simple solutions to complex problems. It is true if you focus on one aspect of a problem, then it can often appear that there is a ten word or less solution to it. The reality is that while you might alleviate this narrowly defined problem, you are really just pushing it down stream in the process. Nowhere is this clearer than in the need to create jobs.
Right now the nation has a enormous jobs deficit. If we define full employment as 4% and the take the U3 rate (unemployed workers plus the so-called discouraged workers) gives us a unemployment rate of 16.5 % or 25 million people looking for work. This means we need roughly 18 million jobs to get to full employment or back to where we were in mid-2007. There is also the need to create between 150,000 and 170,000 jobs a month to keep up with our population growth, as younger workers enter the workforce.
Robert Pollin has a good article in the Nation this month laying out how this number of jobs could be created in the next three years. While that sounds very steep the article points out that it has been done before:
Even with a successful coordination of large-scale expansions of private and public spending, is it realistic to expect that the economy, which has been so trampled down for the past three years, could possibly create 18 million jobs over the next three years? It is an ambitious but realistic goal. This is basically the rate at which employment grew under Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter coming out of the 1974-75 recession. The Carter years are widely derided through the lens of his 1979 "malaise" speech. Yet the first three years under Carter generated the fastest expansion of job opportunities of any comparable period since, including any three-year stretch under Reagan or Clinton.
Mr. Pollin’s idea is two fold, he wants to create a structure where the banks use the nearly 800 billion they are keeping on their books as a cushion to invest in green businesses. This would require some new supports and programs from the Federal government to make the investment attractive and relatively safe. One of the programs is a Federal work share program that would provide support for workers who are not working full time,. This measure would keep the economy from further deterioration while job creating programs came on line.