President Obama convened a "jobs summit" at the White House Thursday morning. It was likely one of the more brilliant moves of his presidency.
One of the most notable early promises from Obama was that the massive stimulus measure signed into law earlier this year would save or create 3.5M American jobs. The President and the White House have continued to defend that claim vigorously since stimulus spending began.
The biggest challenge for them has been that even though spending has reduced the number of jobs losses, net job losses have continued and thus the unemployment rate continued to rise... until this week.
For months business groups, financial blogs, labor leaders, think tanks and lawmakers were lining up to offer the President their ideas about creating jobs. The Left arguing that more spending is required, while those on the Right argue that the government intervention and spending programs have been wrong all along.
So why hold a "jobs summit," and underscore a 10.2% unemployment rate right at the dawn of an congressional election year? The move is brilliantly timed.
Based on the job loss data that we've been tracking here, we've said repeatedly that a return to net jobs growth will be real and measurable in the data by Christmas. This week showed more evidence that economic activity has now resumed to such a level that the unemployment rate has peaked, joblessness has started to fall, and jobs growth is now resuming.
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So the timing could not have been better for Obama to go on record on Thursday: "We are going to be bringing together people from all across the country -- business, labor, academics, not-for-profits, entrepreneurs, small and large businesses -- to explore how we can jump-start the hiring that typically lags behind economic growth, but we don't want to wait. We want to see if we can accelerate it."
The summit came one day ahead of the government's latest jobs report, which showed job losses all but ended during November and that the unemployment rate is now starting to fall from its peak level of 10.2%. Congressional Democrats who have been bracing for a rough election year in 2010 (owing in part to the weak jobs market), could not be more pleased to see a trend line that now clearly points to jobs creation in the months leading up to those elections.
The $787 billion economic stimulus package has now conservatively saved more than one million jobs -- a point highlighted again by Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday. And more projects are in the pipeline that will put Americans to back to work, including very exciting new infrastructure, Internet broadband, and high-speed rail initiatives.
As these new programs actually ramp up, as economic recovery continues to gain momentum, and as jobs growth resumes, Obama can now point to a stimulus plan that got the economy back on track, a TARP program that saved our large banks, and a December 2009 jobs summit that was the catalyst to employment creation in 2010. Perfectly timed.