If Washington Got Its Act Together …


If you're not frustrated with gridlock in Washington, raise your hand. OK, that didn't generate much arm movement. But how much is the lack of activity in our nation's capital costing Americans? The San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank tries to provide some answers.

It estimates an unemployment rate 1.3% lower at the end of 2012 if federal fiscal, regulatory and health care policies were more clear. That would translate to about two million more people earning a paycheck. The lower unemployment rate (6.1%) would be just slightly higher than the 20-year average before the Great Recession.

In addition, many current part-time positions would likely be full-time jobs. In July 2013, 8.2 million people were employed part time, nearly twice as many as a decade ago.

Immediate prospects don't look much brighter. Spending authority to keep government operating runs out at the end of the month and the legal limit on borrowing will be hit in mid-October. More short-term deals instead of long-term solutions are expected.

The bottom line from Kiplinger: "The economy will suffer until Washington sends much clearer signals. Growth will continue to pick up, but only slowly. And businesses won't invest big in new hires or new plants and equipment until they can see a brighter tomorrow."

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