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Two pieces of economic news today:

First, the unemployment rate for December 2010 was 9.8%. That’s down from 9.9% the month before.

But before you celebrate the one tenth of one percent change, consider this:

Louisville lost 5,700 private-sector jobs during the last year and more than 37,000 jobs during the last decade, placing it near the bottom of a ranking of the 100 largest U.S. markets, based on raw changes in employment.

To follow up on yesterday’s depressing news about the jobs gap, we bring you this from the Wall Street Journal:

In Massachusetts, Kevin Cronan, who lost his $150,000-a-year job as a money manager in early 2009, is now frothing cappuccinos at a Starbucks for $8.85 an hour.

In Wisconsin, Dale Szabo, a former manufacturing manager with two master’s degrees, has been searching years for a job comparable to the one he lost in 2003. He’s now a school janitor.

They are among the lucky. There are 14.5 million people on the unemployment rolls, including 6.4 million who have been jobless for more than six months.

But the decline in their fortunes points to a signature outcome of the long downturn in the labor market. Even at times of high unemployment in the past, wages have been very slow to fall; economists describe them as “sticky.” To an extent rarely seen in recessions since the Great Depression, wages for a swath of the labor force this time have taken a sharp and swift fall.

 

Only one city among those observed–Bakersfield, CA–has more factory jobs than it did ten years ago. Louisville has 37,000 fewer.

Related: Many U.S. companies are hiring…overseas

In Kentucky, Goodwill has seen a 24% increase in the number of people it placed in jobs.

From Business First:

“When unemployment is high, it is even more difficult for people with disabilities or other disadvantages to find employment,” Roland R. Blahnik, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Kentucky, said in the news release. “The economic conditions challenged our ability to place people into jobs, but with continuous effort, placements are returning to prior levels. Even with this success, we’re seeing many more people come to Goodwill for assistance in finding jobs.”

The Courier-Journal has published a special report on jobs, noting that Louisville lost nearly 25 thousand jobs over the last decade, while many peer cities added jobs. The web coverage includes a graph that shows unemployment steadily rising in the area through the 1990s.

LEO previously reported on the decade of job loss and discussed the criticism surrounding Greater Louisville Inc.

The C-J asked Mayor-elect Greg Fischer about GLI’s value to the city. Here is the exchange:

Q: Should the city continue providing about 13 percent of Greater Louisville Inc.’s budget?

A: One of our transition teams is going to be taking a look at that. … We’ll be looking at all the issues that are associated with economic development. … I am committed to looking at it very objectively — asking ourselves, why do we have GLI? Why do we have the Downtown Development Corp.? Asking ourselves, where is there overlap in the city?

Q: Do you think GLI has done a good job attracting businesses to locate or expand in Louisville?

A: When you take a look at how we are competing against our 16 peer cities, we have to say, as a community, we have not done as well as we should have — as a community. That’s when we say, is it education, is it GLI — what is it?

 

Georgetown College professor Dr. Robert Bevins has sent a letter to Governor Steve Beshear regarding the planned Ark Encounter creationist theme park and the state tax incentives Beshear says the park will receive.

From the Teaching Sapiens blog:

It was with great sadness that I learned of the severe injury done to the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s reputation. It is a sad day when Kansans can look down on Kentucky, that at least Kansas is not trying to attract an amusement park catering to the unscientific concept of young earth creationism.

Worse still, Kentucky is offering tax incentives to attract further development by Answers in Genesis, a group that can only further decrease our reputation as a state that values higher learning.

[edit]

It wouldn’t be a slap in the face to all of my fellow alumni of the University of Kentucky, devaluing the doctoral diploma that I proudly display in my office and  denigrating the verifiable and evidence based science taught in our land grant universities and private colleges if Kentucky wasn’t looking to help fund an ethically bankrupt amusement park. The presence of the Creation “Museum” is embarrassment enough, but to know that my tax dollars may help to fund its expansion, when researchers at UK and University of Louisville face tight budgets while performing ground breaking scientific research, it is simply too much.

Today, you helped to tarnish my hard won degree with the scorn of the academic community. In an instant, my years of scholarship became worth a tiny little bit less. I will have to defend my state as I once did as a child. “Yes, we wear shoes,” becomes, “No, we aren’t all stuck in a scientific stone age.”

[edit]

Ignorance is bliss to Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, ignorance and fear of a wrathful and genocidal god. I wonder, shall the amusement park include a wave pool filled with the simulated bobbing bodies of the dead, as the Museum cheerfully displays the Genesis account of the Great Flood via computer animation and artistic dioramas of the wholesale slaughter of the world?Having been to this “Museum”, I can say that no depth is too low to subject young minds to in order to scare them away from inquiry and learning.

What shall I expect next from the government of our fair Commonwealth? Should UK and the University of Louisville begin to offer degrees in astrology? Will the UK medical school offer coursework in homeopathy? Perhaps you could establish a Department of Divination to direct the government’s future goals and to offer you a morning horoscope? Or should I expect some other discipline of magical thinking to be given the stamp of approval of the state?

Why did you choose to encourage what can only harm our state’s reputation? Was it a promise of 30 pieces of silver (a temporary increase in construction jobs) to betray our good name?

You can read the whole letter here.

(h/t to B&P)

    Democratic mayoral candidate Greg Fischer released his jobs plan today.

    Here is the WFPL story.

    Here is the jobs plan:

    1. Making Louisville the Long-Term/Aging Care Capital of the World. There are more aging care companies – such as Kindred, Almost Family and Signature Healthcare — headquartered in Louisville than in any other city. Boston is #2.  With the aging of America, this sector has huge growth potential – much like Louisville’s embrace of the logistics sector. In the early 1980s, UPS had fewer than 200 employees in Louisville. Today, because of the city’s logistics strategy, logistics, UPS employs more than 20,000. Greg will ensure the city’s workforce development and economic policies align with the needs of this industry.
    2. Reclaiming Louisville’s historic manufacturing economy through new 21st Century clean-energy jobs. Louisville should be known as the world’s leader in manufacturing energy-efficient appliances at GE and fuel-efficient cars at Ford. Greg will work hand-in-hand with the top executives of GE and Ford and other companies to bring more manufacturing jobs to Louisville. As a co-founder of an international manufacturing company, Greg has the experience needed to attract, retain, and grow this sector.
    3. Slashing government red tape that hampers local businesses by reducing the time for permitting construction and other projects.  Greg will make Louisville an easy place to do business by implementing a “Make It Happen!” policy in city government – closely monitoring and continuously improving the time it takes businesses, contractors, and residents to receive city approvals. Greg will make Louisville an easy place for entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses.
    4. Making Louisville a leader in GREEN — green construction, green buildings, green jobs. Greg will put incentives in place to encourage the construction of green buildings, especially LEED-certified structures (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), in everything from homes to business offices. Greg will also place a renewed emphasis on the revitalization of brownfields, such as the Park Hill corridor, and he’ll use the 100-mile Louisville Loop and the city’s renowned arts, parks and neighborhoods to attract companies and people to Louisville.
    5. Building a 21st Century business park in the Renaissance Zone. The Louisville Regional Airport Authority has hundreds of acres of land south of the airport available for redevelopment. Known as the Renaissance Zone, the area could be Louisville’s next major commerce center, similar to Riverport. Greg will help lead this effort by convening the city and airport leaders with local developers, MSD and state and federal officials to build the necessary infrastructure (roads, sewers, etc) that will attract development and industry.
    6. Developing the next generation of logistics in Louisville. One of Louisville’s biggest competitive advantages is our logistics sector and the city’s location in the center of North American commerce. Greg will identify the next generation of logistics. Instead of just shipping products, for example, Louisville should become a leader in adding value for companies. For example, UPS Third Party Logistics center not only ships computers, it repairs them in Louisville.
    7. Building the bridges and Museum Plaza for immediate and long-term jobs. Greg will build two new bridges, starting with the East End bridge immediately as planned in the Record of Decision, which will create tens of thousands of construction and other jobs. He will also do everything possible to start construction of Museum Plaza and the new VA Hospital, which also will create thousands of construction and permanent jobs.
    8. Growing the local food economy to create jobs and help Louisville feed itself. Create the Urban Agriculture Program to attract people from across the country to live and raise food in urban areas and on vacant lots. Greg will also help develop food processing plants so local growers can process their goods for the market and utilize UPS to ship fresh Louisville produce and products globally.
    9. Linking Louisville and Fort Knox and making Southwest Jefferson County a hub for the military/defense sector. Greg will lead an effort to position Louisville-Fort Knox as a civilian military jobs hub by attracting security and defense manufacturing jobs, and transforming Southwest Jefferson County into a thriving business and recreational center between Fort Knox and downtown Louisville. This will be part of a larger military jobs hub that is developing from Indianapolis to Ft. Campbell and includes military defense contractors and military posts.
    10. Making Louisville a business-friendly, entrepreneurial “can do” city. Greg will create the Economic Innovation Center to build on the exclusive strengths of Louisville’s economy, from aging care to logistics to the 100-mile Louisville Loop. The office will focus on the business sectors and industries that make Louisville unique and set it apart from other cities – and determine how to grow those sectors. On top of this strategy will be a relentless entrepreneurial focus by Greg, who will infuse city operations with a “can do”, attitude where we use our size as a competitive advantage to be quicker and better than the cities we compete against.

    Republican Hal Heiner‘s campaign manager Joe Burgan says this of the plan:

    More of the same – typical political platitudes when what we need are real ideas for attracting and keeping companies in Louisville. Hal Heiner is the only candidate with the job attraction experience a mayor needs to win the best jobs for Louisville.

    I talked with independent candidate Jackie Green, who says Fischer has a few good ideas in his plan, but others are contradictory. For example, he says building bridges is not in line with point #4–making Louisville a leader in green construction, building and jobs. Further, Green says streamlined development can hurt agriculture in Louisville.

                      I recently reported on WFPL about a chicken and egg situation…

                      Louisville needs to have more college graduates in order to compete for jobs, but many companies are looking for educated workforces when they decide to relocate. So which comes first?

                      Most of the people I talked to–including Greater Louisville Project director Carolyn Gatz and Charlotte Chamber of Commerce President Bob Morgan–said the jobs come once the necessary amount of workers are available. Both the GLP’s Competitive City report and Morgan say it takes more, though. There has to be something not only to attract and keep jobs, but to keep workers with degrees from leaving if they don’t yet have their dream job. What makes them willing to wait? To put city ahead of career?

                      The report ranks the city’s “Quality of Place,” and Morgan quantified that by speaking from his own experience. He said while it can’t be measured, pro sports and government support for the arts are just as important for keeping people and jobs in Charlotte as tax credits.

                      Louisville is a leader for safety and greenspace…What keeps you in or out of Louisville?

                      Congressman John Yarmuth has released this statement:

                      My thoughts are with the families that are affected by this difficult news. I am committed to fighting to ensure they have the resources they need to make ends meet, while renewing the effort to spark job creation in Louisville by increasing capital for small businesses and supporting growing industries. I also look forward to working with Humana toward a system in which we can maintain or expand the ranks of the insured and create new opportunities for the company to grow.

                      Mayor Jerry Abramson released this statement on the Humana job cuts:

                      My heart goes out to the employees and the families affected.

                      I have talked with Governor Beshear, and we will work closely with Humana to make sure Louisville gets as many of the 1,100 new positions the company is creating.

                      I’m hopeful the restructuring will make Humana a stronger company and put it back on the road to the levels of job expansion we have seen in recent years.

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