20091203 jobs obama biden 18
President Obama delivers remarks during the opening session of the administration's Jobs and Economic Growth Forum with Vice President Joe Biden in Washington, D.C. - 


Kai Ryssdal: Washington D.C. was a-poppin' today. There were two big events happening at opposite ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Up on Capitol Hill Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke got a roughish going over from the Senate Banking Committee. They're considering him for a second term running the U.S. economy -- a job he will likely get. Down at the White House, President Obama called his jobs summit to order just after lunch, which is when we sent our senior business correspondent Bob Moon off on his assignment. Figure out exactly how the president's going to kick start the labor market.

BOB MOON: The recession may be over, but the crisis of confidence lingers. And job placement expert John Challenger sees that as the key.

JOHN CHALLENGER: One way or another, we have to bring back both consumer confidence and business confidence, or hiring confidence. Employers have to trust that if they hire people, their business is not going to just turn south again sometime soon, and they're going to be stuck with people that they have to let go, and all the trauma that that involves.

Easier said than done, of course. But there may be some escape from this circular fix.

Joshua Shapiro is chief U.S. economist for MFR Incorporated. He suggests thinking small, because most American jobs are created by small businesses.

JOSHUA SHAPIRO: If they could do things that could free up some credit to small businesses who would then hire people and create jobs, I think that would be the sort of thing that you would get the most bang for your buck for. As opposed to, you know, something like Cash for Clunkers or what have you, which causes a two-month blip in activity and then you're back to where you started.

Another idea to spur hiring comes from John Silvia, chief economist for Wells Fargo Securities.

JOHN SILVIA: Raising the minimum wage this summer was really a real mistake. The teenage unemployment rate really jumped. And it would be better to have at least temporary initial lower minimum wage for teenage workers or recently unemployed workers. But it's better to get paid $5 an hour than zero.

Almost all the ideas involve tough choices, but MFR's Josh Shapiro says if you're looking for some kind of magic, you could always try blinking your eyes "I-Dream-of-Jeannie" style. Which is another way of saying what economists have been telling us for months: It's going to take time to work our way out, and there still aren't any quick fixes.

I'm Bob Moon for Marketplace.