After 24 consecutive months of reported establishment survey job losses, Bloomberg columnist Timothy Homan reports that a massive surge in Census Jobs May Jump-Start U.S. Employment Rebound in 2010.

The 2010 census couldn’t have come at a better time for the U.S. economy. The government will hire about 1.2 million temporary workers in the first half of the year to administer the decennial population count, possibly providing a bridge to gains in private employment later in the year.

The surge will probably dwarf any hiring by private employers early in 2010 as companies delay adding staff until they are convinced the economic recovery will be sustained. Money earned by the clipboard-toting workers going door-to-door to verify the government population survey is likely to be spent, giving the economy an extra lift.

“It’s a short-term stimulus program in which the government’s injecting money into the economy through additional paychecks,” said Dean Maki, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Capital Inc. in New York, who projects that 2.5 million more Americans will be working at the of the year. “This will support consumer income during those months.”

The stimulus bill President Barack Obama signed in February and additional funding by Congress provided enough money to hire 1.4 million Americans in total for the census, almost three times as many as in 2000. About 160,000 were already employed last year to do preliminary work.

The Census Bureau anticipates hiring about 181,000 workers from January through March and about 971,000 in the following three months.

The economy may add about 700,000 jobs in May alone, mostly because of the census, said Nigel Gault [chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight]. Even Maki’s more optimistic assessment of the employment outlook means the U.S. may take years to recover the 7.2 million jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007.

By the end of the year the jobless rate will fall to 9.7 percent, according to the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. The unemployment in December held at 10 percent.

Pray tell why does it take 1.4 million Americans to conduct a census, 3 times as many as in 2000?

If full employment is the goal and all this hiring is a good thing as Homan suggests, let’s hire 5 million census workers. Indeed, why not establish a program where someone is automatically employed by the census bureau the moment they apply for unemployment benefits?

In case those fine ideas will not fly, let’s simply reduce the number of hours each census employee works. We can easily triple the number of census jobs from 1.2 million to 3.6 million if the number of hours each employee works is reduced by two-thirds.

President Obama can brag about creating a whopping 3.6 million jobs that way.

On second thought, and pardon me for asking, “Did Obama already reduce the hours each census worker will get so as to purposely distort the unemployment rate and the number of jobs created?”

If not, pardon me for asking still one more question “What exactly are tax payers getting for those extra 933,000 census workers in 2010 vs. 2000?”

Regardless to the answers to those questions, at the completion of the survey, 1.4 million census workers will rejoin the ranks of the unemployed unless they already have another part-time job. Thus talk of “jump-starting” hiring by temporary part-time census workers is complete nonsense even if it does temporarily make the employment situation appear as if it is improving.

By the way, in regards to Jobs Contract 24th Straight Month; Unemployment Rate Stays At 10.0% my friend “BC” commented …

“The combined drop in employment and increase in “not in labor force” is equivalent to ~1% (12% annualized) of the labor force for Dec. and 2% (8% annualized) total since Sept. Good grief.”

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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