Strickland Believes Ohio, Nation Ups and Downs Evidence of Need for New Leadership
By John Michael Spinelli
COLUMBUS, OHIO: During the week before the Dog Days of August begin, Ohio and the nation watched as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell again on the news that 51,000 more jobs were lost last month, pushing the nation’s and the state’s unemployment rate to heights not seen since 1993, and reeled from a report that said Ohio lost 100,000 jobs since 2000 due to trade imbalances with China and that being poor costs more than ever, headlines that did little for state leaders and one big city mayor who announced municipal layoffs to keep the wolf from the door of his operating budget.
Strickland Says New Leadership Needed to Reverse National, State Downturn
Keith Dailey, chief spokesman for Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, told OhioNewsBureau that the governor believes the cause for the rollercoaster ups and downs tormenting the state, the region and the nation, originate outside of Ohio. “Ohioans are suffering as a result of the downturned national economy,” Daily said, speaking for Strickland. “The governor believes this is further evidence of the need for new leadership committed to moving the national economy forward and providing Americans with real relief.”
Strickland, whose name has been bantered about as a possible VP selection for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, a move some say would bring Ohio’s 20 Electoral College votes with it, switched his support from New York senator Hillary Clinton during the primary season to Obama, who is in a close race with Arizona Republican Senator John McCain.
Ohio Affected by Loss of June Jobs
Federal labor statistics released yesterday showed the loss of 51,000 jobs nationwide in June, bring the number of consecutive months of national job loss to seven and the total jobs lost so far this year to 463,000, a dismal statistics even for dismal science experts who believe the fierce slowdown taking place is little different in reality from a recession and say it will linger longer, possibly into 2010 or beyond. For Ohio, underperforming national job growth statistics has turned into an ignominious black eye. One reputable unemployment statistic analysis pegs that record at 148 months, a loosing streak that may be as difficult to break as Joe DiMaggio’s consecutive game hit streak.
GM Job Cuts, Losses Will Hurt
The dogs of despair were let out early this week when GM announced that it will eliminate about 2,000 jobs when it shutters its plant in Moraine, close to Dayton, in 2010, as its sales of trucks and SUVs cliff dive, a sign that motorists are looking for more fuel efficient cars. The second shoe of bad news GM reported this week is that it lost $15.5 billion, a figure standing in stark contrast to the wildly exuberant earnings reported by oil giants like Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell and others whose total profits in the first quarter totaled more than $44 billion.
China No Doll for 100,000 Ohioans
Ohio lost 100,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000 in a lopsided trade balance with China, according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington D.C. advocacy group, timed for release before the start of the Summer Olympics in Beijing, the country’s capital city.
EPI’s report said the US has lost 2.3 million jobs, two-third of them in manufacturing, and $19.4 billion in wages associated with workers were had little option but to take lower-paying jobs. Ohio's share of the losses, EPI reported, was 102,700 jobs, the nation's fifth-largest, behind California, Texas, New York and Illinois.
The president of the steelworkers' union, Leo Gerard was quoted by The Columbus Dispatch saying the report is a welcome counterpoint to the idea that Americans benefit from such trade deals. "It really blows away the myth that somehow ... there's some kind of economic advantage because we can get cheap poison toys and cheap poison drugs and cheap second-rate tires from a China relationship," he told the newspaper, referring to several high-profile incidents involving products from China.
Columbus Mayor Cuts 100 Positions
The capital city of Ohio, Columbus, has always boasted that because of its diverse mix of retail, service, university and government jobs, it wasn’t affected by the same market forces that hit other cities. But when the tide goes out, all boats are lowered, forcing Columbus’ 3-term mayor to announce that 100 city workers will loose their jobs as he tries to stave off a projected deficit next year of $75 million.
Sixty of the jobs are currently vacant, so 42 real workers will be out of work by August 15th. Coleman said “economic factors beyond our control” – like home foreclosures, rising fuel prices and generally higher unemployment (see above) – are the evil doers in the budget troubles looming ahead of him and city council next year. Basic city services, including police, trash and code enforcement among others, will be spared the municipal scalpel.
Costs on Electric Avenue to Rise
For Ohioans who have or are about to loose their jobs, they will have even more pressure put on their thin budgets should an electric rate hike proposed by American Electric Power be approved by state regulators. This week AEP filed to raise electric rates about 15 percent for each of the next three years.
The company says its rate request is linked to an increase in fuel costs, especially coal used to burn to power its power plants, and compliance with a new state electric law that requires it to invest great amounts into renewable energy and energy efficiency. Getting ahead of the heat that will come from consumer advocates, environmentalists and others who fought for a hybrid electric market instead of the market-based environment that failed to perform over eight years, Michael Morris, AEP’s chief executive said that his company will use “all the tools provided by the governor and the legislature” and predicted AEP will be able to “design a new energy plan that will allow us to continue providing reliable, affordable and cleaner electricity in Ohio, while at the same time allowing us to devise a critical, economic development plan that will help turnaround Ohio.”
Being Poor Costs More
One important aspect of a report released this week by the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies (OACAA) was to show lawmakers the real cost of self-sufficiency when they set economic development incentives and guidelines for job training and assistance programs.
Those who advocate for the poor, like the OACAA, see a need for a revision of federal poverty guidelines set by the US Dept. of Health and Human Services, because figures they use, when compared to real-life figures, are outdated and too little.
“It costs a lot more to be poor than it used to,” Philip E. Cole, executive director of the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies, told one reporter. He said the report will be given to Gov. Ted Strickland’s anti-poverty task force, a group charged to make recommendations to the governor this fall. The self-sufficiency standards detailed in the report can be used by the state to ensure that companies given tax breaks to locate in Ohio are providing jobs that pay enough for employees to get by, Cole said in a published report.
Ohioan Dodges FBI Anthrax Case Arrest
In the final story of this post, the man who FBI officials wanted to arrest in connection with the deaths in 2001 from anthrax put into envelopes and mailed to various people, some of whom were prominent, was from Ohio. Bruce E. Ivins, the government biodefense scientist linked to the anthrax deaths, committed suicide. Ivins was born and raised in southwest Ohio and earned his degree in microbiology from the University of Cincinnati. Ivins, 62, died in his apartment in Maryland Tuesday. Ivins was the co-inventor of a new anthrax vaccine and was among those in line to collect patent royalties if the product had come to market, the LA Times reported.
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