It's Not a Deficit Emergency at All
Liveblogging World War II: July 30, 1941

Laura D'Andrea Tyson on the Immediate Jobs Crisis


Laura D'Andrea Tyson: [T]he immediate crisis facing the United States economy is the jobs deficit, not the budget deficit. The… jobs gap – currently around 12.3 million jobs. That is how many jobs the economy must add to return to its peak employment level before the 2008-9 recession and to absorb the 125,000 people who enter the labor force each month. At the current pace of recovery, the gap will be not closed until 2020 or later….

The jobs gap is primarily the result of the dramatic collapse in aggregate demand that began with the financial crisis of 2008. Even with unprecedented amounts of monetary and fiscal stimulus, the recovery that began in June 2009 has remained anemic, because consumers, the major driver of private demand, have curbed their spending, increased their saving and started to deleverage and reduce their debt — and they still have a long way to go…. [T]he jobs gap warrants additional fiscal measures to increase private-sector demand and promote job creation. Sadly, current signals from Washington indicate that such measures will not be taken. Instead, the risk grows that large, premature cuts in government spending will reduce aggregate demand, will tip the economy back into recession and drive the unemployment rate back into double digits….

Although the jobs gap and the high unemployment rate are the immediate problems in the American labor market, they are not the only ones. And there is no sign that the budget negotiations in Washington are going to address these other problems, either…. Job growth between 2000 and 2007 was only half what it had been in the preceding three decades…. Between 2002 and 2007, productivity grew by 11 percent, but the hourly compensation of both the median high-school-educated worker and the median college-educated worker fell…. Employment grew in high-education, high-wage professional technical and managerial occupations and in low-education, low-wage food-service, personal-care and protective-service occupations; employment fell in middle-skill, white-collar and blue-collar occupations. The drop in middle-income manufacturing jobs was especially precipitous…. The United States is underinvesting in three major areas that help a country create and retain high-wage jobs: skills and training of the work force, infrastructure, and research and development. Spending in these areas currently accounts for less than 10 percent of all federal government spending, and this share has been declining over time…. Such investments fall into the “non-security discretionary spending” category of the federal budget, the category in line to be cut to historic lows to reduce the government deficit over the next decade….

The labor market is suffering from two problems: an immediate jobs gap, primarily the result of inadequate demand, and a long-term shortfall in rewarding employment opportunities for American workers, primarily the result of structural forces…. [E]ven when demand has recovered, many of the good jobs lost during the last decade will not be replaced by new good jobs without significant public investments to strengthen the attractiveness of the United States as a production location…