BLEAK FORECAST • State policies can both help and hurt employment
February 13, 2010
The latest report from the University of Connecticut's Center for Economic Analysis is painful reading. The report — "No Jobs Recovery! When Will Connecticut's Misery End?" — suggests that job losses will continue into 2012.
It says, further, that lower-paying jobs continue to replace higher-income positions and that Connecticut companies are expanding their outsourcing of manufacturing.
And here's the kicker: "Unless the state adopts policies and makes strategic investment to change this progressively deteriorating pattern, a jobs recovery may never arrive." Bleak, indeed.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell, her successor and the General Assembly need to address the jobs crisis without adding to the problem. Two useful ideas to train and retain skilled workers in Connecticut were unveiled this week, and there is certain to be an abundance of jobs-related proposals this legislative session.
Mrs. Rell proposes, starting in 2013, to forgive a portion of student loans if the student graduates from a Connecticut school with a bachelor's or associate's degree in green technology, life sciences or health-related information technology — as long as the graduate lives and works in the state for at least two years.
Five percent of the loan would be forgiven after two years and the amount would increase by 5 percent each year thereafter up to five years, if the graduate stays in Connecticut that long. The governor would pay for the program by dipping into two unrelated funds — the Connecticut Health and Education Facilities Authority and the Energy Conservation and Load Management Fund — for $3 million each.
Legislative Democrats are considering a plan to give free tuition to unemployed or underemployed workers attending community college to pursue high-demand occupations such as green technology. This training-for-new-careers program possibly could be paid for by federal grants, as is a successful similar program in Michigan called No Worker Left Behind.
We have concerns about the long-term costs and funding sources of both of these ideas. But there's no denying that retraining workers for high-demand jobs and enticing high-skilled graduates to stay in the state after getting their degrees are worthy goals and good policy.
What the politicians must not do is try to balance the state budget on the backs of jobs-producing businesses, or overload those businesses with expensive mandates such as a requirement for paid sick days.
Connecticut needs to "change this progressively deteriorating pattern" or face the grim consequences.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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