Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. Trahant’s recent book, “The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars,” is the story of Sen. Henry Jackson and Forrest Gerard.
Finally the economy seems to be creating jobs again. Last week a federal jobs survey showed an increase in 222,000 private sector jobs, a full year of growth that added 1.5 million jobs at companies and small businesses.
As Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers put it in his White House blog: “The overall trajectory of the economy has improved dramatically over the past two years, but there will surely be bumps in the road ahead. The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and employment estimates are subject to substantial revision. Therefore, as the administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.”
Nonetheless there is a lot of cheering going on. A glimmer of hope. A long simmering stew about to boil. Perhaps.
But I don’t buy it and you shouldn’t either. Here is why: We are entering the Federal World of Less. The government’s policy is one of contraction, not expansion. Government spending at all levels – federal, state, city and tribal – will be less in the coming years, not more. And with that the sorry prospect that hundreds of thousands of government workers – again at all levels – will soon lose their jobs.
That process is already underway. The February jobs report shows a loss of 30,000 government sector workers. That’s the biggest number in a year, and in a trend that’s just beginning. Remember at all levels of government, none of the really draconian budget cuts have yet to hit. We are still arguing over how big the cuts in government will be.
More important: The federal government does not even have a budget at this point – so any cuts will be magnified by the short number of weeks left between now and October 1. Most of government is people, in one form or another, so that’s where most of the impact will be.
I recently saw a government grant that put this in perspective. It made the award, congratulated the recipient, then added, the money was contingent on this year’s appropriations from Congress. Yeah, right.