Advertisement

Not all new jobs deserve incentive program boost

February 27, 2001

Not all new jobs deserve incentive program boost



The head of West Virginia's Development Office this week told a state senate committee that although tax incentives have led to the creation of jobs, they haven't been the "quality" jobs that will improve the state's economy. But if state officials are going to alter the incentive program, first they'd better decide how they're going to measure progress.

A new yardstick is needed because the definition of a "quality job" is mighty vague. To someone who's been working a minimum-wage job, a quality job might be anything that pays $7 an hour or more. However, to us that term means a job that requires advanced training and holds the opportunity for growth and advancement.

In the same vein, the Development Office will have to improve its tracking mechanisms, because, according to Don Rigby, chair of the West Virginia Council of Community and Economic Development, state officials haven't been able to count job losses or track those positions created through state incentives. Without such information, it would be nearly impossible to tell whether the state is making progress or falling behind.

Advertisement

How could jobs that be tracked? Assign each worker an identification number - Social Security numbers would work - and use it to track the worker's movement from job to job. Employers who receive the benefit of job-creation incentives should be required to do some tracking of their own, so the state knows whether the positions it attempted to create are still part of the state's labor force.

Once that's done, then lawmakers can work on the proposal to create a Sunny Day Fund that would allow the governor's office to finance access roads and other infrastructure for firms that create "permanent, full-time jobs."

Here again, the intent is good, but the bill should be clarified to get the maximum benefit for the state's investment. That means that any jobs created with state incentives should be those in which workers can grow and advance, as opposed to those which may be "permanent" only because they're the sort of jobs that keep workers toiling at a lower rate of pay permanently.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|