Pharos-Tribune

Columns

September 3, 2013

MARCUS: The job deficit and political noise

Governors and mayors normally talk as if they are personally responsible for bringing jobs to their states and communities. This is nonsense. Outside of jobs with the government itself, elected officials have little to do with employment decisions.

Tens of thousands of private sector decision makers are in control. The best elected officials can do is blow the horn for their home areas, as Gov. Pence is doing with his 15-second ads on a Times Square digital billboard.

It is, however, in the nature of things that politicians will pose and prance as if their programs were the decisive factors in increasing employment. None of them will admit the possibility that those same actions could be the reason for unemployment.

Let us then look at the size of the tasks our governor and mayors face: As of July this year, Indiana’s jobs (full and part time) numbered just 28,100 fewer than our July peak of 2007. That is less than 1 percent of the current number of jobs. You could say Indiana is within easy reach of wiping out the job deficit of the Great Recession.

Three Indiana metro areas (Columbus, Indianapolis-Carmel and Lafayette) had more jobs in July 2013 than they did in July 2007, having reached new historic peaks for that month. They are in the best shape among the Hoosier 14 metro areas defined by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The remaining 11 metros have job deficits off their peaks ranging from two percent in the Evansville metro to 20 percent in Anderson’s metro. The peak July for Evansville was reached in 2006, whereas Anderson, in a long-term down draft, last peaked in July 1995. No other metro has a longer period of struggling to regain its former level of jobs.

Elkhart-Goshen’s shortfall of 17,400 jobs is 15 percent of its current employment level, off a peak reached in 2006. Kokomo’s metro and that of South Bend-Mishawaka had July peaks in 2005 and also (along with Michigan City-LaPorte) have deficits in the double digits (12 percent and 11 percent).

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