Political uncertainity on the national level is one reason cited by businesses for not hiring more people, keeping the unemployment rate high.
During a presentation Monday at the Dialogue with the Fed forum on understanding the unemployment picture, Waller cited the collapse earlier in the day of the so-called Supercommittee, a joint committee tasked with recommending federal deficit reduction steps.
While firms are still trying to sort out what federal health care reform will mean, executives are also contending with an uncertain political situation.
Waller outlined what St. Louis Fed researchers hear when they gather anecdotal evidence from around the Eighth Federal Reserve District.
On the monetary policy side, the Fed has lowered interest rates to near zero to try and stimulate the economy, while tax rates have been lowered and a lot of stimulus money has been spent on the fiscal policy side, Waller said. Yet, neither measure appears to being having much effect on unemployment.
"We don't create jobs," Waller said. "The private sector does."
Businesses, however, are also still contending with a lack of demand for their products. Plus, households are deleveraging and restricting consumption, many still struggling after the collapse of the housing market.
"Jobs are opening up, but hires are not being made," Waller said.
The St. Louis region is a microcosm of the nation as a whole when it comes to the economy, Waller said. However, in regards to employment, the region has been performing a bit better than the nation.
The unemployment rate in Missouri fell to 8.5 percent in October, compared to 9 percent for the U.S.