A formula to create jobsPublished 6:00am Wednesday, September 12, 2012
By: Craig Ford
For four years our nation has struggled to climb out of this recession.
Some states have been more successful than others in recruiting or keeping jobs, and until recently, Alabama appeared to be one of those states.
When Alabama’s unemployment rate started to go down this past year, the leadership in Montgomery was quick to come out and congratulate themselves for what they claimed was a reversal of our economic fortunes. They claimed their policies were turning the state’s economy around.
But now it seems they popped the corks on those champagne bottles a little too soon. In June, Alabama’s unemployment rate climbed from 7.4 percent to 7.8 percent. In July, it climbed again to 8.3 percent. In just two months, the unemployment rate climbed nearly a full percent!
Even when Alabama’s unemployment rate was on the decline, it was not because we were creating jobs.
If you look at the numbers, you will see that Alabama’s drop in unemployment had more to do with people leaving the workforce and therefore no longer being included in the calculation.
What is clear from all this is that we are not going to get out of this recession with a quick fix or a “band-aid” approach.
But if we look at other states and cities that have been successful in creating or saving jobs, we can learn from their successes and hopefully recreate them here.
One formula that has been successful for creating jobs has been to invest in infrastructure, invest in education, and makes cut where you must.
In Alabama, we have certainly shown no hesitation to make cuts, as this year’s budgets clearly show. But what we have not done is invest properly in our infrastructure or education.
Investing in infrastructure (such as roads and bridges) can create jobs in the short-term by creating a demand for jobs in construction.
But this construction also benefits other businesses that utilize state roads and bridges.
And the people who are employed to do these construction jobs will then spend the money they make at other businesses, thereby growing the overall economy.
Investing in education can help grow our economy in both the short- and long-term. Our nation will eventually climb out of this recession.
But whether that happens sooner or later depends on whether our political leaders — both in Washington and Montgomery — are willing to make cuts where necessary, but also to invest in our people.
Rep. Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden and the Minority Leader of the State House of Representatives. He has served in the Alabama House of Representatives since 2000.