The recession’s over, but there’s still a long way to go on the road to a vibrant economy, and the public is becoming more concerned about the growing role of government. That’s the synthesis gathered from financial data from the government and private organizations.
In numbers released Thursday, jobless claims fell slightly though remaining high, while wholesale inflation remained low. The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. Department of Labor stats show a slight decrease attributed primarily to the Easter holiday, following two weeks of unexpected jumps in the numbers. Click here for the government’s Regional State Employment and Unemployment Summary and here for data on state unemployment rates for March.
‘The Bipolar Economy’
In separate news that indicates the nation’s economy remains sluggish, a new report titled “The Bipolar Economy” from UCLA Anderson Forecast Senior Economist David Shulman examines the “bipolar” conditions of slow-but-sure growth in the national gross domestic product (GDP), accompanied by an unemployment rate that’s expected to remain above eight to nine percent through 2012.
Shulman suggests “that Washington’s economic stimulus packages may have unintentionally caused an economic schizophrenia.” He notes, however, that the economy is now on the path to recovery and that the number of jobless in America will soon be decreasing. Click here for a video presentation by Dr. Shulman in which he indicates that job growth is lagging for two reasons: a huge surge in productivity as businesses increase their efficiency with fewer workers, and policy uncertainty on several fronts, including the ramifications of the healthcare bill, the present zero rate interest policy, and the huge, unsustainable deficits.
California’s not so Golden
A different report from Anderson focuses on unemployment in California where the outlook is less rosy. Little or no growth is forecast for the remainder of 2010 with more normal growth rates expected toward the middle of 2011. UCLA Anderson Senior Economist Jerry Nickelsburg indicates that the state’s economy will be growing, but won’t generate enough jobs to push the unemployment rate below double-digits until 2012. Click here for a video presentation of results by Dr. Nickelsburg.
And according to research from the Economic Policy Institute, the labor market has shed 8.2 million payroll jobs since the start of the recession in December 2007. In an article titled “Positive job growth, but not enough to reduce unemployment rate,” “this number fails to take into account the fact that simply to keep up with population growth; the labor market should have added around 2.8 million jobs since December 2007…. To get us back to the lower unemployment rate that existed prior to the 2001 recession (4.3% in March 2001), the U.S. economy is now nearly 17 million jobs short.“ EPI is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that focuses on middle and low income workers.
Public’s Trust in Government is Waning
With the national debt projected to rise from 64% of national output to 77% by 2020, (see TradingEconomics), coupled with high unemployment rates and all around discontent with the government, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press finds a “perfect storm” of conditions associated with distrust of government and public concern over too much government intervention.
The newly-released survey finds that only 22% of Americans said they trusted the government in Washington “almost always” or “most of the time,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Pew poll found that there was “less of an appetite for government solutions to the nation’s problems – including more government control over the economy – than there was when Barack Obama took office.” The poll was based on four separate surveys done with 5505 adults from March 11 to April 11. The sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
“Distrust of government soars when the public is unhappy with the way things are going in the country,” reports Pew. In the midst of financial crisis, the level of satisfaction has decreased as the public deals with difficult issues ranging from high unemployment to the future of health care.
The salient point for Americans seems to be that government intervention is not the answer to economic recovery. It seems the general public, still battling a host of negative financial news, questions whether a genuine recovery is happening at all.
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