NAFTA passed in 94 and we have had some of our lowest periods of unemployment since, both under clinton and bush.
the thing that keep business from hiring is either a stagnant economy that does not require more product, or uncertainty about the future. the cost of labor is the biggest cost for most businesses, so it's an investment that has to be carefully made.
i have 3 friends who have blue collar type businesses. well drilling, cement pouring, and commercial farming. all have cut back or at least not expanded because of the economy, the regulations/taxes, and most importantly...obama care. small business traditionally creates the most new jobs in a recovering economy, but because of the above factors, they are afraid to do anything.
regulations almost always come with a cost. usually some kind of fee. this is a tax. regulations have exploded at both the state and federal level. while housing here never went into the tank as much as in other places, my friends the cement people, are still experiencing a slow down in what was a booming business. people are not buying new homes. they are fixing up what they have. in those cases where new places are being built, they come with new restrictions and cost. same with well drilling. the company pays to the state ever time they drill, and so does the homeowner/business having the well done.
i had to pay 100's of dollars to the state for the well i put in a couple of years ago.
farming has been good as far as weather and demand, but labor costs have gone up. oregon raised the minimum wage and with obama care coming, the labor cost will skyrocket. in the case of my farming friends, they had insurance for the full time workers and paid cash for the part time workers health care as needed. obama care will require them to provide a much more expensive insurance and will require them to buy insurance for all or pay penalty for all.
take any industry, including health care, and you'll find that operating costs have gone up, so prices have gone up. all that free stuff? someone pays for it.
no one is going to hire if they don't have to. no one is going to hire full time workers that will cost them more than part time workers.
very rarely is there a problem that could not be solved by getting government out, and the free market in.