Business Must Tout the Jobs Issue

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Look at any survey about California policy and politics and one constant over the last number of years is that voters are concerned foremost about jobs and the economy. In the October Public Policy Institute of California poll, jobs and the economy was cited as the most important issue facing California and according to the PPIC press release on that poll Democrats and Republicans agree, “Jobs and the economy is the most frequently named issue across parties.”

So, it is rather sobering to read some of the following numbers in newspaper articles posted recently.

In a Sacramento Bee op-ed, Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable wrote, “We have lost more than 500,000 middle-class, blue-collar jobs since 2000, 300,000 of them just since 2007.”

In a Los Angeles Times report by Ralph Vartabedian about the cost to the economy of California legislature’s pedal to the metal climate change policies he cited a preliminary analysis just released by the California Air Resources Board, which projects a potential reduction of 25,000 to 102,000 jobs.

In addition, Vartabedian quoted Dorothy Rothrock, president of the California Manufacturing and Technology Association, “Over the long term, manufacturers will be choosing to put their money elsewhere.” That means more lost jobs for the manufacturing sector. Rothrock said that manufacturing investment dropped in the state from 5.6% of U.S. manufacturing investment in 2000 to 1.8% today.

California is still creating jobs but for the most part they are not the higher paying jobs that grow the middle class.

What’s the problem—more importantly, what’s the solution?

Clearly, the voters understand the importance of the jobs issue to California’s economy. But do they understand actions by the legislature often interfere with the creation of good paying jobs?

I return to an argument I have made on this site a number of times before and I will continue to make: It is the responsibility of the business community to make the case through an ongoing campaign.

The business community needs a long-term strategy to make the link for voters on how improvements to the business climate leads to more and better jobs. However, as I have warned before: Challenge a specific business or industry in the political arena and they will respond fiercely. But suggest a long-term campaign of espousing the virtues of a better business climate and no one raises a hand. Such an education campaign would pay off at election time.

Let the campaign begin. The business community has the horse to ride in such a campaign: Its name is Jobs. The voters are already there on the jobs issue; they must hear the importance of the business climate to jobs over and over again.

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