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U.S. posts anemic job growth in June

A job seeker holds a briefcase as he waits in line to meet with recruiters during the Job Hunter's Boot Camp at College of San Mateo on June 7, 2011 in San Mateo, Calif.

Kai Ryssdal: One does wish we could start the weekend with a better dose of economic news. Like almost anything other than this morning's jobs report.

It was -- and this is experts talking, not just me -- it was terrible. Without a single redeeming feature. Unmitigated disaster, one guy said. A net gain of $18,000 jobs was the headline number, not much more than a rounding error when compared to the number of people out of work in this country. The unemployment rate rose a tick in June to 9.2 percent.

And here's a thought. Given that the recovery now's officially two years old, what are companies waiting for? Marketplace Jeff Horwich starts us off today.


Jeff Horwich: Where are the jobs? Well, start with this annoying conundrum: Companies continue to hold the economy back because they're worried the economy will never get going. Here's Erick Ajax, who runs a metal fabrication business in Minneapolis.

Erick Ajax: We could potentially have a double-dip recession where we're having to hire people now but lay them off a couple months from now. And that would be the last thing we'd want to do.

Along with generally waiting for things to perk up, companies are waiting for the government to do something about it. Or not. At least make up your mind, says Doug Roberts of Channel Capital Research.

Doug Roberts: Some type of a long-term program to develop job growth, to develop industry, and until you've got something like that in place, you're really just kind of tinkering with things.

The long-term level of government spending is a big question for business, says Randy Kroszner of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. And love it or hate it, he says health care reform is holding companies back for now.

Randy Kroszner: Both uncertainty that's in the plan itself, and of course there are many legal challenges to it. I chair the university benefits committee. And it just creates a tremendous amount of uncertainty about what the costs will be for permanent hiring.

Then there's productivity: Why hire when you can squeeze more from what you've got? For manufacturer Erick Ajax, the key is more training and new technology.

Ajax: Even though our revenue is back to pre-recession levels, we're doing the same amount of work with 10 to 15 percent fewer employees.

And companies with open jobs aren't always finding what they need. Ajax is hiring, but you'd better have the skills: The guy he just hired to run a high-tech metal press has a fresh degree in precision sheet metal manufacturing.

I'm Jeff Horwich for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Horwich is the interim host of Marketplace Morning Report and a sometime-Marketplace reporter.
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We've heard from several sources over several stories that there is "uncertainty" created by the healthcare reform legislation. However, we are never told what this "uncertainty" is. In some reports, there are even claims that the healthcare bill will lower the cost of healthcare to employers, as they start dumping healthcare plans entirely. If this is the case, then it would seem businesses stand in a win-win situation with regards to the healthcare issue: eat current costs of healthcare in the worst case, get rid of those costs entirely in the worst case. Provisioning for healthcare shouldn't be a hold up for businesses engaging in expansion activities. Please do a story that breaks this euphemism down into what the facts are. Thanks for the reporting.

Wow. Wow Marketplace. I would expect this from a News of the World type of reporting, but Marketplace?

Why don't you break down the 18,000 number and see that "Private hiring, which excludes government agencies, rose 57,000 last month, the smallest gain since May 2010."-- bloomberg.

"Payroll firm ADP said private employers added 157,000 workers in June." -- Marketplace (the day before this article)

Most of the job losses folks are from Government layoffs. This is what the GOP wants. Force shutdowns of government so that more people are out of work. The worse the economy is, the better their chances come election time. John Boheniner have said public sector jobs are not jobs. If people lose their public sector jobs, then "so be it."

So if government jobs are not jobs, WHY ARE REPUBLICANS COUNTING THEM IN THE JOBS REPORT?

-- I know it's Friday and Marketplace does not have it's A game. Can't possibly expect Marketplace to remember what it reported less than 24hours ago, can we?

At some point I thought you indicated that the wealthy were doing well and the rest of us were taking it on the chin. While the dynamics of the situation are vast I think this represents a bit of a manufactured situation. More revenue, less salaries = more profit. Why would the wealthy want to change this? The worst part - not really anything can be done to make the profiteers team players.

We've now proven fairly conclusively that unemployment right now is *not* driven primarily by a lack of government spending or of cheap credit, and high levels of overt taxation aren't it either, though they don't help. Of the levers the government can fiddle with, the one this administration keeps pushing in the wrong direction instead of testing is red tape. It costs too much to hire someone, and salary and overt taxes are the least of it. For example, you talked earlier this week about new EPA rules; those are in effect a new several-hundred-billion-dollar tax that we, and employers, will have to share.

First, the government really can't move the needle much when it comes to unemployment. So people need to stop looking for direction.

Second, the uncertainty of health care is a red herring. Stop wasting your time discussing it in your benefits committee.

Third, Mr. Ajax is absolutely right. Productivity is the forcing-function behind unemployment. And that is not going away. What's left are people in residential construction and we all know where that is.

It's a pity that neither your reporters or your commentators will utter the truth. Without consumer demand driven by consumers{not banks or companies) loaded with bucks, there's no need to hire because there's no need to resupply the sell-through product or service.

It's a pity to hear you toeing the DC "conventional wisdom," which is neither.

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