- January 1, 2013
- Staff Report
The 2007 recession, the Great Recession, is now six years behind us. But the aftermath is still painfully evident throughout the nation. For those still struggling to find a decent job, for those who can’t secure the hours they need to make ends meet, for those who have watched their resources and meager unemployment benefits run out, the Great Recession has never really ended. On paper, and as proclaimed by the committee of experts who decide this, the recovery began nearly four years ago. But it is such an anemic and jobless affair that while market and balance sheets have
improved, too few jobs have been added. In Wisconsin, the recovery has proved even more meager. Yes, we have more jobs today than at the pit of the recession. Still, we remain behind the number of jobs we had in 2007 before the recession began. To put this in perspective, none of the recessions that current workers have lived through – not the 2001 recession, nor the softer 1991
recession, nor the brutal double dip recession of the early 1980s – produced so little job growth this far into recovery. We are still waiting for enough economic dynamism and growth to get back just to where we started.
Our original research for this report includes analysis of data about credential programs collected from each public institution in the state. Our findings include illuminating revelations about the powerful economic impact that credentials can have for Indiana. Hundreds more credentials lead to self-sufficient wages and jobs on the high-demand ‘Hoosier Hot 50’ list and/or lead to career-boosting state licenses and industry-recognized exams. However, some of the most high-impact credentials requested by employers do not currently receive state financial aid or support. We analyze this data and make policy recommendations so the state can capitalize on these Credentials of Opportunity.
Virginia’s workforce is one of the most productive, highly educated, and highest earning in the nation, forming the backbone of an economy that is routinely ranked as a powerhouse. Immigrants have played a key role in the Commonwealth’s success. Without a better understanding and appreciation of what a critical asset the foreign-born population is, Virginia’s ability to reach its full economic potential is threatened. On many measures, Virginia’s foreign-born residents not only perform better than immigrants in other states, they also compare favorably to the native-born population nationally.
While the state slowly recovers from the Great Recession, struggles remain. There is only one job opening for every four people looking for work, the state has the lowest workforce participation rate in the nation, and West Virginia workers earn, on average, one dollar less an hour than the national average. Raising the minimum wage, creating a “Future Fund” by setting aside part of the severance tax on coal and gas, and expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act are just a few of the policy recommendations in this year’s report. Read
It is not unusual in West Virginia to hear strident warnings about the state’s business climate, the status of which is said to range from healthy to “hellhole.” Whatever the merit of such statements, it is only fitting at least once a year to change the question and to ask instead what the climate is for West Virginia’s working people.
Working people, after all, are the drivers of our economy as well as just about everything that moves in the state. They mine the coal, extract the gas, manufacture the goods, deliver the goods and provide the services, and care for the people. Their compensation, in the form of wages and benefits, provides most of the demand that drives the economy. By virtue of their labor and spending, they are arguably our real wealth and job creators.
And, unlike the gas, oil and coal that lie beneath our soil, they can and do move all by themselves, often heading for better opportunities elsewhere when these are not to be found in the Mountain State. This report will examine the most recent data on the well-being of working families and make recommendations about policy decisions that could maximize their well-being.