Another month, another disappointing jobs report. The range of commentary on the latest report in today’s Wall Street Journal is revealing.
“At the outset, let’s just agree; this number stinks,” says one. “But there were a number of counterbalancing positives. Income growth picked up, hours worked picked up, construction added jobs again and the participation rate held steady.” To that writer’s credit, he admits “that we latch onto these modest positives speaks to the bias of low expectations.”
Treading water may be a lifesaver, but it cannot bring us closer to shore. “This month’s numbers are a good indication of the balance between employment growth and the unemployment rate,” one pundit says. “The good news is that employment growth is not slowing further,” says another.
We are gradually succumbing to the pernicious disease of low expectations. It drains us of the will we need to pick up the pieces and keep moving forward. It destroys motivation, leaving enervation in its place.
“I am inclined to believe that employers have simply gone into slumber mode – waiting for some clarity in fiscal and regulatory policy that will only come November 6,” writes another. That too is a fatal mistake.
Today’s economic situation is not the product of any single administration, it is the inevitable outcome of decades of like-minded policies from both sides of the aisle. As such, much more is required to turn it around than a change of faces.
Another theme emerging from the commentary is a common belief that we are but the victims of global economic woes, when in fact we have had a great deal to do with their existence.
“The longer jobs growth stays in this subdued range … the more likely it is due to more persistent factors, including uncertainties caused by overseas events,” says one. “We continue to believe that higher uncertainty from events in Europe … are causing firms to postpone investment and hiring decisions,” says another. Yet another proclaims, “Much of this can be attributed to the Eurozone debt crisis, which is clearly having a growing impact on business sentiment around the world.”
There is one common thread running through it all: not once was it suggested that the underlying economic theory may be in error. When support of that theory leads to complacence and excuses, when we pin our future on mystical powers that we bestow upon our leadership, perhaps it is a sign that we should reexamine the tenets of the dominant economic theory.