Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Would Obama's Jobs Plan Help Avoid a Recession?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Would Obama's Jobs Plan Help Avoid a Recession?

Article excerpt

Economists from 28 firms offered estimates about the jobs plan to Bloomberg News. They disagreed on how effective it would be - and the cost could be high.

President Obama's jobs plan might create employment for half a million workers next year. Or maybe it would create 2 million jobs. Or none.

Those numbers are among the estimates in a new survey of forecasters, conducted by Bloomberg News and released Wednesday.

The survey, coming as the president is urging Congress to pass his $447 billion American Jobs Act, reveals sharp divides among economists regarding the merits of the package. The estimates also come as economists warn that the nation could be dangerously close to entering a new recession.

"I don't think anybody has airtight answers" on what Mr. Obama's plan would accomplish, says Asha Bangalore, an economist at Northern Trust Co. in Chicago. "Each one has a different model."

Obama is pitching his plan as a clear-cut way to boost employment. In Colorado on Tuesday, he said, "It's been two weeks since I sent it to Congress.... I want it back, passed, so I can sign this bill and start putting people back to work."

In all, economists from 28 firms offered job estimates to Bloomberg. About one-third estimated the package would create more than half a million jobs. Moody's and MacroFin saw 1 million new jobs in 2012, and Manulife was the most optimistic, with a forecast of 2 million jobs next year.

But two-thirds of the firms saw job growth of half a million or less, with several seeing zero new jobs.

Where optimists see the jobs plan as helping to revive a weak economic recovery, others argue that any positive impact in 2012 would come by imposing a price on the economy in 2013. The Obama plan would spend additional money on infrastructure and for aid to states and the unemployed, and it would offer expanded tax cuts for consumers and businesses in 2012. But that would mean the US faces higher debt and higher taxes in following years.

Forecasters at BNP Paribas and State Street told Bloomberg they expect Obama's jobs bill would improve the outlook for 2012, while having a negative impact on jobs and gross domestic product in 2013. …

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