Posted: 07/01/12 12:46
by Dave Mindeman
I'd like to talk about two seemingly different topics... but that in reality are attatched at the hip.
The first is about this:
Cities and counties cut jobs by thousands
There are nearly 9,000 fewer workers in city and county governments than there were a decade ago, according to the latest statistics from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Nearly 3,500 of those jobs have disappeared since the economic recession began in 2008. Those numbers don't include teachers or other employees of local school districts; those jobs have dropped by about 5,000 over the decade.
These aren't government "waste" jobs. They are police, librarians, youth counselors, fire dept., social services, elder care....we have cut back on things we need.
These are jobs lost because the State GOP decided to balance the budget on the backs of local governments. The Pawlenty administration started the "gutting" process and the GOP legislature looks upon it as first priority cuts.
The second item is this:
An unemployment rate riddle: What's driving Minnesota's declining jobless rate?
Here's the dilemma....
The unemployment rate in Minnesota has been declining for three years, but don't think it's because of all the jobs being created. Since the recession officially ended in 2009, the state has gained back only half the jobs it's lost.
This has always been a curiousity to me. The jobs report shows negative jobs growth, yet the unemployment number still declines. And the reason for this is the baby boomers. They are beginning to retire in large numbers. They delayed this move during the recession, although some were forced to retire because no jobs were available, but now that the stock market has recovered somewhat and they have the opportunity, they are taking it. They are doing so with a hit on their housing values, but more than likely, they aren't about to sell anytime soon anyway.
But there's more.
A big source of employment opportunities for the next decade or so is going to be replacement rather than job creation. For every three job
openings, two are going to be replacement...
Business looks forward (unlike our state government) and they have already surmised that the available work force is shrinking. As the baby boom attrition continues, employers aren't looking to "create jobs", they are looking for ways to keep what they have.
Employers, meanwhile, are worried about their future workforces. Close to half of the 150 executives surveyed by recruitment firm Robert Half International said baby boomer retirement is the macro trend that most concerns them and will have the greatest impact on their businesses.
OK - two topics. Two things unrelated. Right?
Here is the problem. This baby boom retirement trend is in full swing and will be for at least a decade or two. These people leave the work force and, maybe, in theory, these laid off government workers will get some of those private sector jobs.
Just one problem. Retirees expect more services from their government. They have come to rely on more mass transit. They need elder care...preferably in their homes. They frequent libraries, expect full police protection. Legal help for scams and business fraud. They want their grandchildren to have top quality education. And the ancillary services that upgrade their homes (sewer, water, street maintenance, street lights, and power) need to be maintained and upgraded. And they want the zoos and parks available to them.
These service needs will grow by leaps and bounds as the baby boomers transition out of the work force. This is not the time to cut back on government services. As the population ages (and states like Minnesota are aging faster than most), government services for a population which well be less independent is critical.
With the numbers of unemployed still high and the need for jobs still a priority, government should at least maintain the workforce it has.
Cutting back, as much as we have, is going to leave us unprepared for a future trend that we can see pretty clearly in the here and now.