Job searchers wait in line during a career fair on...

Job searchers wait in line during a career fair on Feb. 5, 2010. Credit: Getty Images

The House has passed a bill awarding tax breaks to companies that hire unemployed workers.

It’s the first of several job-creation bills promised by Democrats, but many lawmakers questioned whether it’ll actually spur much hiring.

The bill passed Thursday is far smaller than the jobs measure that passed the House in December. It would exempt businesses hiring the unemployed from having to pay the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax. It also extends federal highway programs through the end of the year.

Critics of the measure said few businesses would base hiring decisions on the new tax cut.

The Senate passed an almost identical bill last week but must act on the measure again because of slight changes in the legislation before it can be sent to President Barack Obama to sign it into law.

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