You can almost hear the collective sighs in the White House and the quiet whispers of desperate strategy upon reading today’s glum news from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.1 percent in August and zero — that’s right, zero — net new jobs were added. To make matters worse, net employment was revised downward for June and July by about 57,000 jobs overall.
The stakes are high. The president who came into office on a platform of creating jobs and pumping money into the economy to reverse the Great Recession — promising unemployment rates of less than 7 percent by this time — now will be forced to make bold policy proposals or risk losing his presidency. That, presumably, will be the subject of his speech on September 8, on the heels of the Republican presidential-candidate debate. Prepare for a new round of spending stimulus. At least the lines will be drawn in the sand on economic policy, setting up a real choice during the presidential election season in 2012.
— Samuel R. Staley is associate director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University and a senior research fellow at the Reason Foundation.