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Editor's Note Fall 2011: Earthquake, Floods - and High Unemployment to Boot

Fall 2011
The end of summer brought bad weather - an earthquake rumbling Georgia to Maine and Hurricane Irene flooding areas all along the Atlantic Seaboard. When it comes to economic news, the nation was similarly assaulted. The U.S. credit rating was downgraded from AAA to AA+, the nation dropped to fifth place in the global ranking of the world's most competitive economies, and the unemployment rate held steady at 9.1 percent.

President Obama acknowledged that this last bit of negative economic news needed to be addressed - and quickly. We went to press on this issue the day before his much-anticipated speech on this subject. Nonetheless, the pundits have offered up their responses to the jobs crisis - and their recommendations sound a lot like what the White House has been hinting at. For example, the Alliance for American Manufacturing proposes the following, among other things:

  • The establishment of a national infrastructure bank to leverage capital for large-scale transportation and energy projects

  • Revamping the tax code to provide incentives for job creation and inward investment

  • Applying "Buy American" provisions for all federal spending

  • Refocusing the trade agenda to give U.S. businesses tools to counter China's currency manipulation

Trimming the U.S. tax rate to say 22 percent from the current high of 35 percent would prompt U.S. companies to create jobs here instead of overseas, say the economists, while fostering U.S. global competitiveness. And cutting government red tape for construction, environmental, and other permits has also been suggested.

Previously, many thought the jobs of the future would come from the "green" economy, with the U.S. Conference of Mayors predicting in April 2009 that green jobs would account for 10 percent of new job growth over the next 30 years. However, the federal stimulus monies awarded for clean energy projects have, unfortunately, resulted in far fewer jobs than anticipated. Everyone agrees the government should promote sustainable development, but economists have come to realize this is not the answer to the nation's unemployment woes.

White House staffers have noted the administration must put some measures into effect that will have a direct impact in the short term to grow the economy and create jobs. Although many economists believe that consumers and governments will take a long time to recover from the damage done by the historic borrowing binge that got the nation into the recession, allowing existing stimulus spending to expire and taking no new measures at all could surely send the country back into recession.

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