I’m tired of hearing that the economy isn’t producing jobs because business lacks confidence in President Obama. Yes, companies are sitting on a ton of cash rather than adding to payroll, but this failure to hire would be the same if Romney were in the Oval.
If England used to be a nation of shop keepers, the U. S. has become a nation of middle managers. While it’s easy to calculate out how many people it takes to produce Fords on an assembly line, it’s not as straightforward to figure out how many people you need in cubicles writing reports and emails to each other.
As the economy has come back, a lot of jobs have been eliminated, as companies realized that they didn’t need all the people they had before the meltdown. To some extent, they made bigger profits because people who kept their jobs were so grateful and terrified that they were willing to do a job-and-a-half rather than complain. But remaining workers also found themselves able to get more done because meetings were shorter and there were fewer co-workers up and down the chain of command to deal with by memo or email or office visit. Businesses realized that before the meltdown, they had a lot of employees who may have looked busy, but weren’t terribly productive.
When the economy tanked, our private sector was over-staffed, as we typically complain that the government is. Companies that find themselves under-staffed are hiring (people doing a job-and-a-half won’t do that forever), but they won’t let themselves become over-staffed any time soon. A lot of jobs are just gone for now, regardless of who controls Congress or the White House.