Bloomberg is reporting that some lame-brain economists are excited about the employment boost of the 2010 census:
Jan. 8 (Bloomberg) — 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 end of the year. “This will support consumer income during those months.”
(cont…) 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.
First Five Months
The economy may add about 700,000 jobs in May alone, mostly because of the census, Gault said. 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.
“The bulk of these employees are from the low end of the income distribution; they are cash-constrained,” said Neal Soss, chief economist at Credit Suisse in New York who forecasts the economy will add a little more than 1 million jobs this year. “Having a paycheck is allowing them to spend in a way that they wouldn’t otherwise.”
Hiring for the census may also help lower the unemployment rate early this year, economists said, though the influence will be less than in payrolls. For example, some of the people hired may have other part-time jobs, limiting the impact on joblessness.
This is typical mainstream Keynesian hogwash, which always supports government spending, no matter how useless or counterproductive. The less a corrupt government knows about the people who live under its rule, the better. Aside from that, in hard times wasteful programs like the Census should be completely dispensed with or postponed. For goodness’ sake, I bet a private firm could assemble better data for 1/100th the cost (if they haven’t already done so and sold it at a profit).
Keynesians never consider where the capital comes from for all of this useless employment. Capital can’t be created at will by bureaucrats. It has to be produced through intelligently orchestrated labor and saved by not consuming the fruits of that labor. This is what is stolen by the government when it taxes, prints money or issues debt to “create jobs.” It drains the economy of the savings needed to create real jobs and keeps us from building up the capital we need to grow out of depressions. This is what put the Great in the depression of the 1930s.
(Edit: checking Mish just now, I see that he posted on this same topic today)