Disappointing Job Gains for November 2021 Speak to Government Barriers to Economic Recovery

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The U.S. economy added 210,000 jobs in November, far short of what economists expected. CEI experts say government mandates and restrictions remain a big part of the problem.

Statement by Sean Higgins, CEI research fellow:

“The Labor Department’s report Friday that only 210,000 jobs were created in November, far below the economists’ forecasts of 575,000, is a gloomy sign that the economy is being battered by the supply chain crisis and the Biden administration’s attempt to force workers to get vaccinations. The numbers again indicate the best thing Washington can do for the economy is resist imposing new regulations or launching political investigations but, instead, get out of the way and let the economy heal itself.

“Without goods to sell due to the supply chain crisis, employment in retail trade suddenly declined by 20,000 jobs in November, following gains of nearly 40,000 in the two previous months. Legislation by Utah Senator Mike Lee and Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach, the Stop the Grinch Act, would help ease the crisis by temporarily lifting restrictions on the trucking industry that are contributing to the backlog along with lifting shipping restrictions imposed by the Jones Act that slow activity at ports.

“Despite the overall unemployment rate falling to 4.2 percent, down from 4.6 percent in October, the numbers of people who reported being unable to work due to the pandemic remained unchanged at 1.2 million. The number of discouraged workers, the folks who believe that no jobs are available for them, was also unchanged at 450,000. The Biden vaccine mandate likely contributed to these numbers as the holdouts against getting vaccinated decided there was no point in trying to re-enter the workforce until the issue was resolved by courts. The administration should reconsider the mandate before it does further damage.”

Statement by Ryan Young, CEI senior fellow:

“Despite inflation worries and November jobs numbers being below expectations, economic fundamentals are in good shape. That is why jobs numbers improved as the delta variant faded. When people feel safe opening up, they do; and when they don’t, they hunker down—regardless of government policy. The big trillion-dollar spending bills have nothing to do with helping people feel safe opening up. That means they will have almost no jobs impact, despite their cost.

“People need to continue to get vaccinated and boosted, and the FDA needs to approve new treatments like the COVID pill as soon as possible. We don’t yet know how harmful the Omicron variant will be, but simple prudence at home can do more good than any governor or president.

“The best thing policymakers can do to is to ease inflation by cutting back the deficit spending and letting the Federal Reserve do its job without political interference. They can also help job creation by taking a more humble role – rolling back tariffs and other policies that are clogging supply networks, like never-needed age restrictions and hour restrictions for truckers, getting rid of the Jones Act that has hobbled domestic maritime shipping, and ending occupational licenses that keep willing workers out of a job.”