Local government responsible for lost jobs

The “gulp” news is out and it’s not good.

Many business leaders caught their breath and gulped Friday at the news that Palm Beach County’s unemployment rate increased to 11% from 10.3%. It’s going the wrong way.

Florida’s unemployment rate, with nearly 1 million people out of work, was 10.6%.
Both these numbers are higher than the national jobless rate, which is hovering at 9%.

What is it about Palm Beach County that swells the ranks of the unemployed, higher than either Florida or the U.S.?

Well, for one thing, businesses in this county get socked with higher taxes and fees than most other areas of Florida. County government has leeched businesses by keeping taxes high, and burdensome.

And what about labor costs? Government workers received unreasonably escalating pay and benefits in the many years prior to the last two. Those costs were borne by taxpayers, and business paid their own rising private sector labor costs. When business incurs higher costs for anything- especially labor and taxes- it means there is less money to hire people, particularly when the economy sours.

One of the great destroyers of private sector growth is unpredictable government actions. Business owners will NOT embark on hiring programs and expansion plans when they anguish over what government will do to them next. Businesses now see more regulation approaching; successful people like themselves will be taxed more.

The causes of joblessness are not only local, they are national. In 2011, our long-term unemployment rate is greater than the Great Depression years. For a significant segment of our society, government has created a disincentive to work.

This country has spawned an “I’ll take all the free stuff I can get” crowd. This group figures “why work”, if they can count on the liberals to carry their banner by demanding that government give them money taken from the productive taxpayer. The freebie crowd has a disincentive to work because they know they can stay home and receive unemployment benefits until the cows come home.

Think I’m wrong about this? I invite you to observe what people in this group do when their employment benefits run out: Funny thing, there is a remarkable jump in employment. The only explanation is that, while taking unemployment benefits, they refused to find work, or they weren’t trying very hard to find jobs when they could stay home and suck up benefits. The root problem here is government policy that permits them to do this. Government provides the disincentive.

Why? We have a president and too many Congresspeople who want to mirror the European socialist model, with expensive safety nets, bottomless unemployment freebies, jacked-up wages, rail transit, and cradle-to-coffin benefits. This is unsustainable, a major cause of unemployment.

Business can’t hire more people when government does things to make them unprofitable. To create jobs, businesses must be allowed to grow. Regulations and taxes smother growth.

High unemployment is the new normal until local and national governments stop their socialist foolishness.

John R. Smith

John R. Smith

John R. Smith is chairman of BIZPAC, the Business Political Action Committee of Palm Beach County, and owner of a financial services company.
John R. Smith

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