As with most political debates, the best solutions-for instance, on the subject of jobs-are likely to be somewhere in the middle ground between two candidates.
President Bush, for example, is correct when he notes that new-job creation, stagnant for much of his tenure, has picked up. From August 2003 to August 2004, the economy created 1.7 million jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, the monthly rate of 144,000 falls short of the 210,000 that the administration predicted for 2004. Indeed, it's barely above the 110,000 new jobs per month needed to keep pace with population growth.
Conversely, presidential candidate John Kerry is correct in noting that Mr. Bush's policies have not produced the job growth that the administration predicted and that Americans remain worried about job prospects. According to an Aug. 24 Gallup poll, 63 percent of Americans said it's a bad time to find a quality job-an improvement from the 80 percent who held that opinion a year ago, but still a bleak outlook.
In the poll, a quarter of American workers said there have been layoffs at their workplace in the past six months. Twenty percent of Americans fear that their wages will be reduced or hours cut back.
But Mr. Kerry may be overstating the danger of U.S. jobs shifting overseas-at least at present. According to the BLS, of the 182,000 non-seasonal workers who were laid off in the first quarter of 2004, for example, only 4,600 lost their jobs to foreign workers. More than three times as many workers lost jobs because their employer relocated to another part of the U.S. (A 2003 Goldman Sachs study estimated a bigger rate of job loss-up to two to three times higher.)
Forrester Research, a Cambridge, Mass.-based consulting firm, has predicted that 3.3 million jobs will be sent overseas by 2015, giving credence to Mr. Kerry's position.
-Crain News Service from Workforce Management magazine.