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September 2nd, 2011
06:25 PM ET

Letters to the President: #956 'The Paralyzed Job Market'

Reporter's Note: President Obama is preparing for his big jobs speech, which just got a little more important with this morning’s latest jobs report. Here is my latest letter.

Dear Mr. President,

No jobs created in August? None? What a lousy way to start a Labor Day weekend.

I’m no economist, but this news seems bad. When the numbers came out this morning I actually thought there must be some kind of mistake. And I’ll bet you were hoping that was the case.

Why do you think this is happening? All politics aside, why do you think we keep grinding from one month to the next with so little improvement in the jobs situation?

I heard a guy on TV say it reflects a type of paralysis among American employers. They are so afraid of the uncertainty, that they are simply unwilling to spend any money on expanding. They have no faith in predictions about what Washington will do next, they can’t depend on the markets, and the global economy is as puzzling as one of those rope-and-chain puzzles you find at Cracker Barrel.

Their employees are in the same fix. They have no confidence in the stability of their jobs, and they fear for the value of their homes and retirement accounts.

So everyone is playing it safe. If they have money, they are holding onto it. Hence, the paralysis.

Sounds like a pretty fair assessment to me. The question is: What are you going to say on Thursday to change that equation? I keep thinking of the whole “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself..” line, but that’s already been done. I’m sure you’ll come up with something.

Give me a call if you want to get together this weekend. I’m pretty busy, but unlike John Boehner I can make time for you. Ha! Just kidding…

Regards,

Tom