As The Employment Slog Continues, Successful Jobs Programs Should Be Renewed

Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released another report showing that job-creation continues to slog along at a less-than-encouraging pace. The economy lost 54,000 jobs in August (though 67,000 private sector jobs were created) and the unemployment rate remained essentially unchanged.

June and July’s job creation numbers were revised upward somewhat, but the fact remains that this level of job creation is not enough to foster an acceptable recovery. In fact, as Derek Thompson noted, “if every twelve months, we added as many jobs as the best year in the last decade, we wouldn’t get back to full employment for another eleven years.” Calculated Risk has the graph:

The Obama administration has been dropping some hints that a new job creation package is in the works, and it has been appropriately hammering Senate Republicans for obstructing a bill providing tax credits and loans to small businesses. But given the deficit hysterics that have gripped Capitol Hill, the chance that a substantial jobs program emerges are, as Edmund Andrews put it, “somewhere between zero and zero point zero.”

However, there are some under-the-radar things that could be done, like renewing the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Contingency Fund, which is set to expire in a few weeks. As Joy Moses and Melissa Boteach note, “this program has enabled 35 states to partner with the private sector over the past year and a half to create more than 240,000 new jobs for low-income and long-term unemployed workers.” Republicans in Congress enjoy mocking this particular program, but it has substantial support amongst Republicans at the state level that could help push a renewal through.

Also, it’s rather mystifying that, with the Obama administration talking about payroll tax cuts to boost the economy and emphasizing its intention to preserve the Bush tax cuts for the middle class, no administration figures are talking about an extension of the Making Work Pay tax credit, which was passed as part of the Recovery Act.

As Jamelle Bouie noted, “the fact that we’re talking about ‘extending the Bush tax cuts’ and not ‘passing the Obama tax cuts’ is a real political failure on the part of the Democrats.” Indeed, Obama’s signature tax cut, which he campaigned heavily on, is garnering no attention whatsoever, and seems destined to expire with little fanfare.

Now, neither of these measures would provide the sort of large-scale job creation necessary to push the economy out of its sluggish current state. But they would help on the margins, and given political constraints, might be the best that we can hope for.