Wage, employment and population stagnation present stark contrast to Beshear’s claims that the Bluegrass State is ‘back with a vengeance’
Instead, he chose to largely ignore the biggest problems facing Kentucky while offering few new ideas to address the state’s ailing public-pension crisis, widening achievement gaps between black and white students and unfriendly business policies that put up “Do Not Call” signs at the commonwealth’s borders.
Demonstrating the alternate reality that has characterized his administration for eight years, Beshear told a joint session of the General Assembly that “Kentucky is back, and we’re back with a vengeance.”
Actually, in the key categories of employment, population and wage growth, the commonwealth is barely back – and only back to where it was when Beshear gave his first State of the Commonwealth address in January 2008. For instance:
- Total private-sector weekly earnings are up, on average, less than 1 percent annually since Beshear took office. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- While the governor touts the drop in unemployment, the drop in employment is most disconcerting. While there are about 61,000 more 25-64-year-olds in Kentucky than there were when Beshear took office, only 8,000 net jobs have been added during that period (BLS and U.S. Census Data).
- The commonwealth’s manufacturing sector experienced a net decline of 14,200 employees between November 2008 and November 2014. Meanwhile, there was an increase of 16,900 government jobs during that same time period. (BLS)
Tonight, the governor touted Kentucky’s performance compared to other states and criticized those of us who have called for looking at examples of growing, robust economies in neighboring states.
Rather than Kentucky finding out what our neighboring states are doing to improve their economies and education systems, the governor said “Tennessee, Indiana and the rest of our neighbors are working hard to be more like Kentucky!”
“Would the governor really have Indiana rid itself of its robust school-choice program or Tennessee trash its right-to-work law so they be more like Kentucky, which has no parental choice and no right-to-work protections for its employees?” asked Bluegrass Institute president Jim Waters. “Claiming Kentucky has roared back and then denying the competitive disadvantage the state has put itself in offers a glimpse into the alternate reality and parallel universe this administration has chosen to operate in for eight years.”
“The fact is Kentucky’s per capita income in 2013 was lower than six of the seven surrounding states,” Waters continued. “Meanwhile it’s losing out on major job growth as companies like Caterpillar and Beretta gun manufacturers cross Kentucky off its list and head to Tennessee, Georgia and other right-to-work states.”
The fact is that Kentucky trails right-to-work states in almost every key category, including higher welfare rates than right-to-work states.
Meanwhile, the Bluegrass Institute commends the Kentucky Senate’s Economic Development, Tourism and Labor Committee for supporting a right-to-work policy for the commonwealth.
“We look forward to approval of the full Senate on a statewide right-to-work policy before the week is over,” Waters said.
He also commended local county leaders who have not allowed Frankfort’s inertia to keep them from passing their own right-to-work ordinances and giving their counties every opportunity to succeed in attracting manufacturers and the opportunities they offer their citizens.
“For too long, this governor and his administration have touted Frankfort as the answer to Kentucky’s greatest challenges,” Waters said. “We offer the governor’s own words to that approach: Kentucky is much more than political and legislative battles inside this complex. Rather, it’s ‘out there – in homes, on farms, in classrooms and along the Main Streets in our 120 counties.’”
For more information, contact Jim Waters at (270) 320-4376 or firstname.lastname@example.org.