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April 7, 2010

Plan B solution to unemployment

Kevin E. Dayhoff

The rate of unemployment continues to harry the local and national economy as the nation continues to try to figure-out an exit strategy to an entrenched recession. Last Friday the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the national jobless rate held steady at 9.7 percent.


In Carroll County the rate for February was recently reported at 8.1 percent – the highest in a decade. In Washington County, the rate increased a full percentage point to 11.9 percent.


According to a recent article in The Hagerstown Herald-Mail by Heather Keels, “February’s rate (in Washington County) was the county’s highest since at least 1990, the earliest year for which comparable data is available…


“Hagerstown’s unemployment rate in February was even higher than the county’s, at 12.6 percent, Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation data shows. That’s higher than any other Maryland city listed, including Baltimore (11.5 percent) and Frederick (7.8 percent)…


“The Maryland unemployment rate was 8.3 percent in February, up from 8.2 percent in January.”


Moreover, the increasing malaise and anxiety about the overall direction of the country and state, county, and municipal government continues unabated. Uncertainty about the future and the increasingly burdensome bureaucratic and regulatory response to our current business climate hinders job creation and economic development.


To make matters worse, it is budget season and many county and municipal governments are rattling the specter of increasing taxes, while the Maryland General Assembly – and especially the federal government – continue to attempt to smooth over our economic challenges by enlarging and extending benefits and entitlements to a growing, if not artificially created, dependent class.


All of which is to be paid for by increasing taxes on higher-earners – or anything that moves or appears to be successful. Never in the history of the U.S. has there been such an atmosphere and environment of punishing success than the current mood of Washington.


The federal government said last week that 162,000 jobs were created in March; however, somewhat ignored is that as many as 100,000 of those jobs are taxpayer-funded temporary jobs created by the Census 2010 program.


Since President Barack Obama took office, it is reported that the nation has lost over three-million jobs.


Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (R., GA) remarked that “we have still yet to see the robust private sector job creation the Obama Administration promised would come from its $862 billion failed stimulus.


“This administration has spent more than a year trying to grow the economy by expanding government, even though history shows that strong and sustainable economic growth must begin in the private sector.


“Our job creators, particularly small businesses, are staring at a litany of tax increases, new government mandates, and onerous regulations, all of which threatens to derail their plans for the future.


“To achieve the long-term economic growth necessary to put America back to work, we must first renew our commitment to the entrepreneurial spirit and principles of free enterprise which are the proven path to widespread prosperity.”


The Baltimore Business Journal noted on March 26 that the recent spike in Maryland’s unemployment rate “comes in a month during which 23 states added jobs, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. About 2.5 million people were employed in Maryland in February, 68,300 fewer than a year earlier and 13,800 fewer than a month earlier.”


Let’s not overlook that Gallup reported on April 1 that “Gallup Daily tracking finds that 20.3% of the U.S. workforce was underemployed in March – a slight uptick from the relatively flat January and February numbers…


“Despite the Obama Administration's March 16 announcement that unemployment would remain high or increase in coming months, the underemployed in March became neither more nor less hopeful about finding work soon.


“Six in 10 underemployed Americans are not hopeful they will find work or move from part-time to full-time work in the next four weeks. That translates to 12% of the workforce that is both underemployed and not hopeful they will find their desired amount of work.”


As for the immediate future, Fox News carried an Associated Press article recently that observed, “The economy grew at a 5.9 percent rate in the October-December quarter last year, the fastest pace in six years. But most economists expect the pace of growth to slow to about 3 percent in the current quarter, which won't be fast enough to quickly bring down the jobless rate.”


So, is there a plan B?


In early February, noted public policy analyst and historian Joe Getty penned a blueprint for Maryland (and the nation), for the Maryland Senate Republican Slate.


“What's the solution? (Maryland Gov. Martin) O'Malley's anti-business policies over the last three years have dropped Maryland from the 25th most business friendly state to the 45th most business unfriendly state.


“The obvious solution is to repeal the high taxation enacted by O'Malley, reverse over-burdensome regulations, and incentivize small business growth in the state.


“Unfortunately for O'Malley, these are all measures opposed by the special interests that support him… With no relief in sight for the private sector, expect even more business closures and correspondingly reduced state revenues over the coming year.”


Others hope that the elections this coming November is our best hope for a ‘plan B’ response to our current malaise by way of a change in leadership both on the state and national level.


Already the liberals in power are attempting to stifle and marginalize opposition to their populist policies of tax and spend, class warfare and growing the numbers of the dependent class with more public giveaways.


The summer of 2010 must be remembered by a profoundly compelling and persuasive – and civil – debate about alternatives to the failed economic policies of the last several years both at a state and at a national level.


Ultimately the only solution available at this point is at the ballot box this November.


Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. E-mail him at

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