Banks County Opinions...

FEBRUARY 4 2004


Column

The Banks County News
February 4, 2004

Support Gillsville’s ‘Friends of Community’
Community leaders in Gillsville are forming a community organization to work on improvements in the town. An organizational meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday at the community center.
Support this effort by attending this meeting and volunteering for the activities and events that will improve the town.
A community can accomplish many things when people work together for a common goal. We all hope they are a success in their efforts to “preserve the history and hometown appeal of the town,”
Also in Gillsville, the town council has planned a work day for Saturday, starting at 9 a.m., to plant more trees and shrubs in the city park. City leaders hope volunteers from the town also assist with this project.

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Column

By:Rochelle Beckstine
The Banks County News
February 4, 2004

Job rate not really rising
In President Bush’s State of the Union address last week, he stated: “Manufacturing activity is increasing. Inflation is low. Interest rates are low. Exports are growing. Productivity is high. And jobs are on the rise.” And though all of this is true, there is no comparison in either number or type between the jobs that were lost and those that have been added.
Since 2000, 2.3 million net jobs have been lost. 15 million people are either unemployed and want to work or are working part-time because they cannot get full-time work, according to the AFL-CIO, a federation of American unions. And more alarming is that 2002 and 2003 was the first time there was net job loss for two consecutive years since 1944 and 1945. True, new jobs are being added-on average, 57,000 jobs have been added each month since last June. But it has not been enough to turn the economy around. The AFL-CIO states that just to accommodate new workforce entrants like people graduating from college, at least 150,000 new jobs are needed per month.
And there is a general fear that the new jobs are paying less, offering fewer benefits, are more likely to be contract or part-time and offer little security. And this fear is real and legitimate. The jobs added are in hospitality, accommodations and health, but they are jobs of lower pay with fewer benefits than those lost. Many of the jobs that were lost were in manufacturing and information-services, they were what is considered middle-class positions.
The Economic Policy Institute said that jobs added between November 2001 and November 2003 pay 13 percent less than the kinds of jobs that we’re losing. So to rebound the economy we need more middle-class jobs. We need to attract corporations to come and stay in the United States. Keep business here.
The AFL-CIO recommends a government policy mandating corporate patriotism, but I’m not sure that is the way to go. It sounds nice, but a bit against the free enterprise system we live in. Corporations see profits so give them a little black for their bottom line.
There was a policy talked about whereby corporations in the United States would be given money for operating here as compensation for not having to pay fines (tariffs) for those goods that would otherwise have to be imported. The European nations went into an uproar and threatened heavy fines for all goods imported into their countries, which would have negatively impacted American companies, but economists on CNN felt it would be minimal as goods imported tended to be from large companies like Microsoft, and European consumers would need these items anyway.
And yet the compensation for American companies seems to have dissipated; after all, Bush had just sidestepped around and mollified the European union over steel tariffs, but America needs to take action and provide for measures that will strengthen America’s work force.
What many were proposing was a reward system for American companies and it may be the fuel needed to pull in more business and more jobs. Tourism and healthcare can’t be the life blood of the United States; there aren’t that many tourists and after being out of work for so many months, the unemployed tend to lose their healthcare.
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.


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