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What’s Missing From This Story?

I have excerpted all of the explanatory passages from a recent MSNBC story on the continuing slowdown in hiring – see if you can spot what isn’t there:

With the economic situation uncertain, even those companies that want to add staff may not feel like they can hire a lot of new employees, or guarantee those people a job for very long.

“The main issue is that businesses don’t believe that demand for their products or services is going to be very strong over the next few years,” said Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist with Capital Economics. “It doesn’t make sense (to add) to your cost basis by taking on more workers.”

(…)

Becca Dernberger, vice president with the staffing firm Manpower… said she thinks employers are pickier these days, wanting to make sure that every person they hire is the exact right fit for a job. They also are increasingly looking for very specialized skills for dealing with new technologies and functions, she said.

(…)

Jodi Chavez, a senior vice president with Ajilon Professional Staffing, a unit of staffing firm Adecco… said companies are making do with fewer employees overall, and she hears from many employers who want to hear a clearer economic stimulus plan from Washington before they commit to major hiring plans.

“It’s not really the case that companies don’t have the money,” Dales said. “It’s just they don’t have the confidence to spend that money or invest it in workers.”

I’ll tell you what I didn’t see: Any mention of corporate taxes, regulation, labor unions, minimum wage laws, or uncertainty about the deficit.  Except for the Manpower VP, it’s all demand, demand, demand, demand (I suppose you could make an uncertainty argument for the Ajilon VP, but that’s more like demand uncertainty than deficit uncertainty).  And the tale of Sherill Manufacturing woven through it is all about lost contracts, foreign competition, and business drying up.

You can throw all the tax breaks and deregulation and government austerity you want at corporations, but if no one can afford to buy their products and services, they’re simply not going to hire people, whether they can afford to or not.  More spending money (private or public) = more sales = more employment.

I would also like to note how strange it is that the people who moan that even the tiniest increase in taxes on corporations or millionaires will destroy our fragile recovery are always the same ones who insist that anything less than multi-trillion-dollar spending cuts will be the death of us all.  And by “strange,” I mean “hypocritical and morally repellent.”

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