The Economy Today: Hope for Jobs, After All?

A roundup of national and regional economic headlines

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the possibility of a “jobless recovery,” but The Wall Street Journal’s Justin Lahart has a story out today that takes a sunnier perspective on the employment forecast. The flip side of businesses shedding jobs so quickly during the downturn, several economists or employers tell the Journal, is that they may have to add them just as quickly when the economy picks up again. But don’t get carried away in your optimism—the story’s “to be sure” graf notes that “it could take years before payrolls reach their prerecession level,” and in some sectors—like manufacturing—the losses are likely permanent. (In a separate story, the Journal reports that summer unemployment among teenagers remains sky-high.)

Speaking of manufacturing, The New York Times carries a dispatch by Dan Barry from Augusta, Maine, a classic New England mill town where the last paper mill stopped rolling in 2001. For years there was hope that new ownership, or a change in the economy, would set the rollers in motion again. But the mill has now been demolished; plans call for a riverside mixed-used development to be built in its place.

Out in California, the Los Angeles Times reports in a long, interesting story that the grueling battle over the state budget may be far from over. The spending plan addressed the state’s fiscal troubles by slashing aid for many programs, and cuts to healthcare, redevelopment, and transportation have already been declared illegal by courts, with other rulings perhaps on the way. In the words of one former lawmaker, “It’s easier to hire lawyers than lobbyists, and you probably get better outcomes.” It’s not clear what will happen, but as the story notes, the state’s strategy in the past has been to string similar suits along for years, until the economy improves and there’s enough revenue to go around.

In stimulus coverage, there’s a smattering of mostly-positive stories in regional papers today. The Tennessean notes that 11,000 residents of its home state are receiving stimulus-funded unemployment checks, after their eligibility under the conventional assistance program had expired. With many employees still struggling to find new work, further extensions are being considered. In Indiana, the Indianapolis Star reports that more than $600 million in federal funds has staved off deep cuts in public schools, and even allowed for expanded investment in technology and other areas. And in the Southwest, The Arizona Republic reports that more than $25 million in stimulus money will flow into more than 100 medical and dental clinics that operate mostly in rural or underserved areas.

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Greg Marx is an associate editor at CJR. Follow him on Twitter @gregamarx.