If you're like me, you'll be watching President Obama on television Thursday night as he outlines his new plan to get America back to work.
And, like me, you'll be wondering if any of his proposals stand a chance of actually making much of a dent in the nation's massive, 9.1-percent unemployment rate.
Helpfully, a group of economists and analysts at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) released a set of four criteria that we at home can use as sort of a scorecard to see how the president's jobs plan stacks up (or anyone else's, for that matter.)
For the 14 million jobless Americans, Obama's speech and the job-creating measures he puts on the table won't merely be some abstract political exercise or campaign stunt.
They could be the unemployeds' last, best hope of finding a new job any time soon.
As the folks at EPI say in their new report:
A renewed emphasis on job creation is desperately needed. The unemployment rate has been at roughly 9% or above since the spring of 2009. Among black and Hispanic workers, nearly one in four is unemployed or underemployed in a typical month. Unemployment has doubled since 2007 for each educational group, including college graduates and workers with advanced degrees. Polling shows that more than 40 percent of families have been directly affected by unemployment in the last year, a condition that has prevailed since June 2009.
With that sense of what's at stake, let's go straight to how you should grade the president's proposals.
Criterion One: Will the policy make a real difference in
job creation in the next 24 months?
This criterion is crtical because the labor market needs a jolt that is both quick and sustained. As the EPI folks note, many of the job-creation proposals floated in recent weeks and months — such as free-trade agreements, patent reform, and deficit-reduction — won't produce jobs in the near term. The nation needs to start creating lots of new jobs — and fast.