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Grace Ross: Less Talk, More Jobs!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

 

Grace Ross GoLocalWorcester MINDSETTER™

In 2010, Massachusetts was down about 325,000 jobs. I remember vividly because I was running for Governor and was deeply concerned – talking to people it was easy to believe that one in six Massachusetts adults were un- or underemployed. We still were not talking about the fact that most of the economy is the economic activity of people; 70% of it, 20% is business and 10% is government. So long as we-the-people are not doing well, I would contend the economy is not going to rebound.

These days, there is all this fanfare about unemployment statistics being down and everybody trying to find some glimmer of hope about how our economy is rebounding and the great recession – talk about a misnomer – is supposedly over. All you need to do is look at something like this chart that lines up the amount of job loss by recession since 1948 to recognize that we lost more jobs in this last recession than we ever conceived of happening in our life-times – the present is that bottom line. It’s 48 months and we have barely begun to crawl back. In fact, statisticians argued that it wouldn’t be until 2030 that we’d see the level of employment that we had had and looking at this graph two years later gives you a real sense of why it is still so devastating. 

In this context, some folks are running around saying they’ve got the solution. Scott Brown running for re-election for U.S. Senator has had the smarts to hold job fairs in various parts of the state while simultaneously saying that the job situation is better; he seems to know that for many people, the job situation is still desperate. 

At the height of the acknowledged joblessness, when you added together the official unemployment rate, folks who are officially under-employed and the number of folks who are unofficially unemployed but are still counted by the federal government, we were at well over 20% unemployment. Check this graph and you can see, unfortunately, we are still there http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/unemployment-charts. 

While electioneering to the jobless, Scott Brown would tell you that the answer is more money for the supposed “job creators” that is the very wealthy. One problem? We have absolutely no empirical evidence that they have anything to do with creating jobs.

 

 

If you look at the huge percentage of our economy that the top 10% has had for the last 10, 15, 20 years, it’s really clear that if their money is the money that creates jobs, we should have the most blooming economy we’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, the evidence shows the opposite. If these are the job-creators, they are asleep at the wheel. More than likely, they have never been the job creators. The divide between the very wealthy and the rest of us, does not create jobs, it destroys the ability of the rest of us to participate healthily in the economy and without our ability to circulate money, jobs die. Sorry, Scott!

Then there is the story from the other side (this is where I get in trouble with the people who think that loyalty means that you gloss over reality).

Our Lt. Governor, part of the state top administrative decision makers, just put out a notice that he wanted everybody to see this study that showed that infrastructure jobs were really good for the economy. Great study on the importance of rebuilding bridges and buildings and new building. Those jobs lead to more jobs, more spending and tax revenue. Of course, Moody’s – one of the major rating agencies and not exactly what you would consider out of the box thinkers – have been saying all along that infrastructure jobs are one of the best ways to rebuild the economy. The only government spending that is more effective than that are investments like food stamps that help regular people to do better and participate economically in general.

While the Lt. Governor is out touting more proof of what has been true all along about the stimulus impact of infrastructure jobs, he’s also part of an administration that is blocking jobs to fix and build our infrastructure. There is something around $17B that would provide exactly these kinds of infrastructure jobs that he claims are so important and the Patrick Administration is not spending it. This is money that has been authorized by the legislature, so they really cannot do much more about it, but in that corner office at 24 Beacon Street under that gold dome sits the power to put some 180,000 people in our commonwealth to work for a year. If that wouldn’t turn around our economy, I don’t know what would. The study the Lt. Governor is highlighting is great but, for us regular folks, it’s about action not about rhetoric. 

 

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