he last few months have seen a flurry of economic stimulus measures: The Federal Reserve has begun its purchase of $600 billion in bonds, and Congress has passed -- and President Barack Obama has signed -- a broad extension of tax cuts, including a surprise decision to cut the Social Security withholding tax by 2%. But will any of those measures create enough new jobs to finally get the economy moving?
Among economists, the consensus is that the job outlook will improve very slowly in the first half of 2011 -- but that unemployment numbers could keep rising through the summer. If they're right, the jobs conditions could spook consumers, who account for the bulk of economic activity, up to 70% by some measures. Businesses have shown no eagerness to start hiring in such an uncertain environment.