Don’t believe claims that the Census will help the recovery, as even the BLS admits this is far from certain. A report they released last month predicts the two-month boost in hiring and spending will be followed by a two-month slump:
- 800,000 temporary jobs will lower the unemployment rate by several tenths of a percentage point in April and May (with lesser effects beginning in January).
- Around $14 billion in government spending could boost GDP by 0.1 percentage point in 2010Q1 and 0.2 percentage point in 2010Q2.
- The end of the program may cause GDP to fall by an equal amount in Q3 and Q4.
- Unemployment, too, may rise by an equal amount.
In fact, net unemployment is likely to increase as the census draws in thousands of discouraged workers, who are not currently included in the 9.7%.
But here’s why the Census will have a worse effect than the BLS admits.
800,000 Census workers are 800,000 people who are not finding a steady job. They are nearly a million Americans who will not actually contribute to the GDP.
That wasn’t a problem in 2000 or 1990, but it will be a serious problem in 2010.
Grosvenor’s Richard Gold makes an apt comparison in the CS Monitor: “This is the government’s version of the Olympics.”