Last week the Labor Department released its June report and the numbers were well below expectations. It was the third-consecutive month of weak job growth. From April through June, the economy produced an average of just 75,000 jobs a month, the weakest quarter since July through September 2010. The unemployment rate stayed at 8.2 percent.
Both parties and politicians at every level benchmark their performance based on job creation and a low unemployment rate, even though many who hold and run for office have never truly created a job or been responsible for employing a person with their own money. Speaking from experience, I can tell you it’s a heavy weight on one’s shoulders. Making certain there is enough money in the bank to pay the person hired, cover all the taxes and benefits and dealing with a never ending list of government regulations and reporting is a heavy burden. When things don’t go as planned there is no spinning of the facts or passing blame to anyone other than the employer and employee.
As a small business owner, job creation is a very personal thing and no serious employer takes the task lightly, especially when it’s your money being spent and your money on the line for the performance of the tasks assigned to a person. Most small business owners I know feel exactly the same way. I can personally attest that many sleepless nights go by making hiring or firing decisions, dealing with disciplinary issues, benefit plans, work assignments, injuries and generating enough revenue to keep the lights on and the staff working.
That said, when I hear politicians and bureaucrats taking credit for creating x-number of jobs and putting people to work, I have to wonder if they really have any idea how the process truly works and that each hire or dismissal is so much more that just a statistic from which to campaign. It’s a life and that one life has dependents and responsibilities of their own that they likely lose sleep over. The whole process of being a small business owner or working for a small business gets brought up frequently in political campaigns and with the state of the economy in its current condition, we’ll be hearing a lot about the economy and jobs in the coming weeks and months.
We’re told that the Labor Department report left economists and investors grasping for any good news. They found some in the fact that the average hourly pay rose 6 cents in June, the biggest monthly gain in nearly a year. The average work week also grew, and companies hired 25,000 temporary workers, usually a sign that they will eventually move to full-time workers, but it’s no guarantee. Economists and investors appear to be living off the sweat and stress of those of us who have true skin in the game. Like a gambler down on his luck, until solid consumer confidence returns, small business employers must continue to risk with every hire that they can maintain sufficient stability in their business to keep pressing forward with little to gain or even go deep into debt hoping for their luck to turn around. Small businesses and their employees represent nearly 60 percent of the US workforce.
In the upcoming election cycle politicians will spend billions talking about jobs and the economy. They’ll debate insourcing and outsourcing and who is best suited to create the most jobs and generate the strongest economy. They’ll take credit for everything positive and accept no blame for anything that went wrong and all the while small business employers and the fate of millions of employees will rest on the outcome of the elections, until confidence, cooperation and rock solid belief in the future of the US economy returns to prior form.
Each night as the politicians go to bed, they and their advisors will think of new strategies to gain more votes and overcome gaffs made on the stump. Their goal will be to put the best spin on what is or isn’t happening with the US economy. Meanwhile small business owners and their employees will continue to lose sleep worrying about that next payroll, praying sales improve and that the outcome of the elections will in fact have a positive impact on the country’s economy.
Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org