Vanishing Jobs

By Peter Katel, March 13, 2009

Will the president’s plan reduce unemployment?

The news is grim and getting grimmer. The jobless rate recently hit 8.1 percent – the highest level in a quarter-century. American workers lost 651,000 jobs in February alone. All told, more than 12.5 million Americans are jobless – including 2.9 million who have been unemployed for at least 27 weeks. The nation is banking on the Obama administration’s newly enacted, $787 billion “economic stimulus” bill to spark job growth through government spending on infrastructure projects and other programs.

Conservatives argue that the spending won’t help, and some liberals say the magnitude of the crisis calls for still more stimulus money. The huge spending measure also includes funds to encourage states to expand eligibility for unemployment insurance, though some governors are resisting on the grounds that their states will wind up footing future bills. With no quick turnaround predicted, creating or saving jobs will remain the top priority for President Barack Obama and the millions of citizens counting on his administration’s rescue plan.

* Will the economic stimulus bill create or save 3.6 million jobs, as promised?
* Is retraining for new skills the best option for laid-off workers?
* Should unemployment insurance be extended beyond what the recovery act allows?

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