Job Creation 101

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , |

A hiring tax credit returns from the dead.

The White House is finally coming to realize that taxes affect job creation. Terrific. Its solution seems to be to bribe employers for hiring new workers, albeit only for a couple of years. Less than terrific.

Alarmed by the rising jobless rate, Democrats are scrambling to “do something” to create jobs. You may have thought that was supposed to be the point of February’s $780 billion stimulus plan, and indeed it was. White House economists Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein estimated at the time that the spending blowout would keep the jobless rate below 8%.

The nearby chart compares the job estimates the two economists used to help sell the stimulus to the American public to the actual jobless rate so far this year. The current rate is 9.8% and is expected to rise or stay high well into the election year of 2010. Rarely in politics do we get such a clear and rapid illustration of a policy failure.

This explains why political panic is beginning to set in, and various panicky ideas to create more jobs are suddenly in play. The New York Times reports that one plan would grant a $3,000 tax credit to employers for each new hire in 2010. Under another, two-year plan, employers would receive a credit in the first year equal to 15.3% of the cost of adding a new worker, an amount that would be reduced to 10.2% in the second year and then phased out entirely. Why 15.3%? Presumably because that’s roughly the cost of the payroll tax burden to hire a new worker.

The irony of this is remarkable, considering the costs that Democrats are busy imposing on job creation. Congress raised the minimum wage again in July, a direct slam at low-skilled and young workers. The black teen jobless rate has since climbed to 50.4% from 39.2% in two months. Congress is also moving ahead with a mountain of new mandates, from mandatory paid leave to the House’s health-care payroll surtax of 5.4%. All of these policy changes give pause to employers as they contemplate the cost of new hires—a reality that Democrats are tacitly admitting as they now plot to find ways to offset those higher costs.

Alas, their new ideas are little more than political gimmicks that aren’t likely to result in many new jobs. Congress doesn’t want to give up revenue for very long, so it would make the tax credits temporary. Thus anyone who is hired would have to be productive enough to justify the wage or salary after the tax-credit expires—or else the job is likely to end. An employer would be better off hiring a temp worker and saving on the benefits for the same couple of years. read the rest in opinion Wall Street Journal

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