The Leader's Ledger

Posted by Jessica Straus on

Good morning,

Last week, an economist pointed out the reason small businesses aren’t growing: “Small business owners don't want to take chances because they can see how troubled the national economy is.” Today, President Obama will be in Albany to defend his record on the economy and will reportedly “make the case that while the recovery has been uneven, the U.S. is making progress.” Of these two takes on the current state of the economy, only one is supported by facts. Surveys show small business hiring slowed in April. Fed Chairman Bernanke said the 5.1 million Americans who have been unemployed for more than 6 months may never find a new job. House Republicans are squarely focused on reducing tax and regulatory burdens to give small business job creators the certainty they need to invest in their businesses and hire new workers. If the President will join House Republicans on pro-growth solutions, then we can put the economy back on the track and begin to see real progress.

Today In History: In 1963, with the release of Dr. No, moviegoers got their first look – down the barrel of a gun – at the super-spy James Bond (codename: 007), the immortal character created by Ian Fleming in his now-famous series of novels and portrayed onscreen by the then relatively unknown Scottish actor Sean Connery.

Birthdays: Rep. Vern Buchanan, Harry Truman, Enrique Iglesias, Darren Hayes, Melissa Gilbert, Bobby Labonte, Alex Van Halen, Chris Frantz

Here are the Top 6 things you need to know today…

1. State of Play: President’s Failed Economic Policies Persist, Biggest Drop From Labor Force In More Than 60 Years. Payroll job growth essentially stalled in April, falling to just 115,000 new jobs for the month. This is the second straight month of slowing job growth. With a rate that is slightly below what is required to keep up with population growth, the economy is now "treading water" at best. The most significant news from Friday's report was the continued fall in labor force participation. Due to this disengagement, the slight drop in the unemployment rate from 8.2 percent to 8.1 percent was actually a false signal. It was more bad news rather than good…Since the start of the recession we have also encountered the largest disengagement from the labor force in more than 60 years. This decline in labor force participation (from 65.7 percent to 63.8 percent) represents about 3.7 million jobless that are no longer counted in the unemployment rate. Unfortunately, labor force disengagement is entirely responsible for the nearly 2 percentage points decline in the unemployment rate from 10 percent to 8.1 percent. US News

2. Need For Pro-Growth Policies: Small Business Owners Grow More Optimistic, But 74% Report No New Hiring in April. The net change in employment per firm (seasonally adjusted) came in at 0.1; this is down from March but still positive. Seasonally adjusted, 12 percent of owners surveyed added an average of 3.3 workers per firm over the past few months, and 14 percent reduced employment an average of 2.9 workers per firm. The remaining 74 percent of owners made no net change in employment. Forty-seven (47) percent of owners hired or tried to hire in the last three months. Thirty-four (34) percent of owners (or 72 percent of those trying to hire or hiring) reported few or no qualified applicants for positions. While firms have eased lay-offs, they haven’t resumed strong hiring. Unemployment claims remain high and seasonal adjustments are off track as hiring, normally done in March and April, may have occurred earlier in the year. Index of Small Business Optimism

3. Regulatory Row: Chairman Graves And Congressman Tipton: Red Tape Is Strangling America's Energy Supply. As loudly as American families are demanding refuge from economic burdens like high gas prices, small businesses are now chiming in as well. Persistently high energy costs are forcing owners to reduce hiring and cut back on employee hours. According to the National Federation for Independent Business, one in 10 business owners says energy is his or her single greatest cost, ranking it ahead of wages, materials and other investments that help companies thrive. Another 25 percent claim it as the second or third biggest expense…Waiting on the sidelines, ready to work, small firms need the government to act quickly to clear regulatory roadblocks. The weight of the BLM's regulatory regime is making small energy producers unable to sustain work. Thus, energy small businesses and their contractors suffer, domestic resources remain idle and gas prices remain high. Washington Times

4. Small Biz Survey: Grading States On Small Business Friendliness. and the Kauffman Foundation today will release a new Small Business Survey, ranking states/cities on their friendliness to small businesses, based on a nationwide survey of over 6,000 small business owners themselves. The data shines a new light on the United States' business regulatory climate and the nation's economic health. From the results: “Small business owners give an A+ to Idaho, Texas, Oklahoma and Utah for their overall small business friendliness while California, Hawaii, Vermont, and Rhode Island got F’s.” … "Asking entrepreneurs to rank state friendliness to their businesses is a powerful resource for helping policymakers understand the needs of business owners and for helping aspiring founders understand the full dimensions of their business environment," said Dane Stangler, director of research at the Kauffman Foundation.

5. The Economic Recovery: Fed Chairman Makes Clear That Slow Recovery Could Mean More Jobless Americans. Never before in postwar America has finding work taken as long; 5.1 million people have been out of work for at least six months. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that the average length of unemployment is 39 weeks. In November, it was 41 weeks, the highest since the U.S. began collecting the information in 1948.If the labor market heals too slowly, job seekers face more and more erosion of their skills and connections, increasing odds that they’ll never work again. Economists call the phenomenon by a more academic word meaning that which comes later: hysteresis. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke says that while this hasn’t happened yet, because the weak economy keeps joblessness elevated, the risk that it could bolsters his case to keep record monetary stimulus in place. The longer the unemployment rate stays elevated, the more likely that jobless people will “see their skills and labor-force attachment atrophy further, possibly converting a cyclical problem into a structural one,” Bernanke said in a March 26 speech in Arlington, Virginia. Bloomberg

6. Keeping Tabs: The Growing Case For Keystone: Warren Buffet Backs Pipeline Proposal. Billionaire Warren Buffett supports building the Keystone XL pipeline that TransCanada wants to build to carry Canadian oil south across the Great Plains to connect to Gulf Coast refineries. Buffett was asked about the project that would cross Nebraska Monday on Fox Business Network. Buffett says he's not an expert on the project, but he thinks it generally makes sense to build the pipeline. Last week, TransCanada reapplied for a permit to build the pipeline after changing the route through Nebraska to avoid the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region. AP

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