Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jobs Created or Saved?

We've been hearing since 2008 how large numbers of jobs have been created or saved via government intervention. Hooray for us! All those folks are employed now! Everything is just great! But wait. Recently, they announced that some education stimulus funding was going to have to be continued in the last half of 2010, or we would suffer massive teacher layoffs, and children would have to deal with gargantuan class sizes.

This got me thinking that the stimulus-related jobs aren't described in enough categories, so I'm going to define my own. Each category defines a particular group of jobs which exist now because of the stimulus.

Jobs Created
  • These jobs are self-sustaining long-term jobs created through a bootstrap process which was funded by government intervention. This means government jobs don't get counted here, which I think is a good thing. This could include things like spin-off companies from universities which receive federal funds.
Jobs Saved
  • These jobs return to being self-sustaining long-term jobs after suffering a short period where the job would have been lost without government intervention. Still, don't put goverment jobs here. Some small businesses are saved through loans, or through tapping into house equity. Too bad most lenders seem to be in lock-down.
Temps Created
  • These are short-term jobs which result in the temp workers filling jobs with known end dates. There are actually two sub categories here, since there are those temp jobs where the employee earns more than the government spent to create the job, and there are those where the government pays at least equal to their wages. For this category, think new construction projects like roads, or things like census takers. The majority of the paychecks come either directly or indirectly from the government.
Temps Saved
  • These are short-term jobs which would have been eliminated (as all temp jobs are) if it had not been for government intervention putting off the ending date. Most of these would be employees of small businesses who found some sort of windfall through the stimulus which allowed them to keep employees longer than they had planned. Meh.
Government Jobs Eliminated
  • Woudn't it be cool if they would report this as a positive number? I'd want it to be a net value so it would be an actual reduction in the number of government employees rather than the elimination of X jobs while the government is off creating Y new ones elsewhere.

Jobs Subsidized

  • These are long-term jobs which require ongoing funding to avoid collapse. This is where you count government jobs (both created and saved) as well as any others which would go away without continued government efforts to prop them up. Granted, some jobs such as teachers could be on their way to being self-sustaining at existing taxation levels, so it's a matter of deciding how long we're willing to pay and pray.

So, which do think we have the most of now that we've been stimulating the economy for nearly two years to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars? It should be blindingly obvious if you follow the news. Now for the tough question. Since the government can't and shouldn't take care of everything, what do we as citizens do about it?