Sunday, September 16, 2018

Bill Crawford: The Rest of the Story on Miss. Jobs

Years before Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, conservatives would regularly tune in to hear Paul Harvey on the radio. Admired for his unique voice and storytelling talent, Harvey broadcast his conservative messages for over three decades. He was particularly known for revealing to his audiences "the rest of the story."


During the remainder of this year's national political season and next year's state election cycle, voters would do well to adopt Harvey's approach. Don't let politicians get away with only telling part of the story. Get the rest of the story too.

An example of this emerged at last week's Summit on Career Education and High-Paying Jobs, held at Itawamba Community College's Belden Center in Tupelo.

Listen and you will hear state politicians touting Mississippi's "lowest ever" unemployment rate and recent job growth.

At the summit, Lewis Whitfield, Senior Vice President of the CREATE Foundation in Tupelo, played Paul Harvey and told approximately 300 business leaders, educators, economic developers, and elected officials the rest of the story.

“Only 56% of civilians are working or looking for work," he said, as reported in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. "So 44% either aren’t working or not looking for work. So when you hear we have a 4% unemployment rate, that’s great – but it only applies to that 56%.”


As for job growth Whitfield said, "While the U.S. economy has grown 16.8% from 2009 to 2017, Mississippi has grown only 3.4%. The fundamental reason for our lack of growth is the lack of a qualified workforce."

The underlying issue for both labor participation and job growth is workers lacking needed skills. This fact was highlighted at the summit by Ron Wanek, founder and chairman of Ashley Furniture Industries, the world’s largest furniture manufacturer and retailer that employs 3,200 people at its facilities in Ecru, Ripley and Verona, and Hassell Franklin, founder and CEO of Franklin Corp., a motion furniture plant that employs 1,000 people in Chickasaw County.

So, politicians, what are y'all doing to get our lowest-in-the-nation labor participation rate and skill levels up?

Not nothing, but clearly not enough.

State policies addressing the issue are pretty good.

Gov. Phil Bryant's State Workforce Investment Board designed its comprehensive Mississippi Works Smart Start Career Pathway Model to address these problems. It covers the spectrum from basic skills for high school dropouts to high-tech skills for advanced manufacturing. It involves all kinds of partners, including community colleges, schools, rehabilitation centers, and WIN Job Centers.

Bryant's Third Grade Reading Gate and the Mississippi Department of Education push to reduce high school drop-out rates and improve graduation rates have had some success. And Bryant led a revamp of the state's Early Childhood State Plan.

But state funding to implement these policies is inadequate.

Partner agencies budgets keep getting cut by the Legislature. There's not enough money to hire the number of third grade reading coaches needed or retain the effective teachers needed for drop-out prevention in many schools. And there is virtually no state money to address critical early childhood development needs.

“Closing the skills gap is our biggest challenge,” said David Rumbarger, CEO of Tupelo's Community Development Foundation.

Policies without adequate funding won't close the gap, and that's the real rest of the story.


Crawford is a syndicate columnist from Meridian.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mississippi has a ways to go.

Hopefully, after Phil Bryant, the citizens will wake up and elect some people that are grounded and about Mississippi and not themselves.

Tate Reeves, to be a 40-something politician, he panders to that good ol' boy Jim Crow crowd.

Jim Hood, Lynn Fitch, Delbert Hoseman, Jay Hughes, David Baria, Mike Espy, Joel Bomgar - those are current elected officials that can get sh*t done and move Mississippi Forward.

Anybody but Tater

Anonymous said...

I have no idea where he gets his 44% figure of civilians neither working nor looking for work...but...is it possible that figure includes those civilians who are 16 years of age and younger and those older than 67, with most of both groups neither working nor looking for work?

Every governor for at least the past twelve has touted his super, dynamic, magical, wand-weaving program for workforce development and harnessing the untapped talent of the Mississippi workforce. And for at least 55 years there's been plenty of federal funding to underpin those grande schemes.

Why hasn't any of that 'worked'? The writer needs to be working on that issue instead of simply throwing around unexplained data.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for this problem of the 44%. I hate if the other way around..........

Anonymous said...

Interesting group that you think can get shit done, 1031. Truly birds of a feather. Delbert's crappy deal in 2003 with his buddy Mike Moore that gave us Hood as AG should have shown everybody where his loyalties and philosophical basis lay.. Now, Moore and Hood are working to get their former emplotee, Lynn Fitch in the AGs office so they can continue to enrich their trial lawyer buddies with lucrative contracts at the state's expense.

So in your opinion this list of Dems are the ones that can move the state forward (yet there is nothing you can point to that any of them have actually done). Certaonly appropriate that you include their collaborators Fitch and Hosemann since they are all connected at the hip and heart.

Anonymous said...

So what is your solution 10:31 AM?

Anonymous said...

If there's really 44% of people looking for a job then Mississippi will need a whole bunch of beef plants and chicken plants and solar panel plants to soak all them people up!

Anonymous said...

It's simple, take their F'n scraps away, then they will have a decision to starve to death or go to work.

Anonymous said...

Think, 44% is a very large number, and if they are not looking for work there has to be something that makes them comfortable at that level. Someone is feeding them and housing them and they are so comfortable they are not looking for a way "out". This something is most likely government assistance. I haven't seen any stats on the breakdown of the 44% but I would bet that a great deal is single female with children and other groups that are comfortable on government assistance. 11:34 is right. Solution? Until we recognize that you can't eliminate negative behavior with positive reinforcement there will never be a solution.

Anonymous said...

Most politicians are not business owners, some are. The majority have no idea what work force and skills training are. You teach the kids at an early age responsibility. Then you teach them work ethics. Both of those come from home. Provide a skills trying program at every school starting at the eighth grade other than how to build a birdhouse. Begin with basic skills in technology and construction. If that doesn’t spark an interest in some then move them onto a different school geared toward the white collar profession. It’s going to take some work. Starting at the community college is too damn late. By the 12th grade if a kid is serious and if the opportunity is there he should have already been given 2 years credit in a 4 year apprenticeship program. The problem is you can’t find enough qualified instructors. After some of my employees have spent the time at certain vocational schools learning welding I have to retrain them. What they have learned is not enough to even know how to crank a welding machine much less begin the process of welding.

I sure would love to know how the deal the State cut to fund education with casino revenue is doing because the last time I looked, teachers still need raises, students have a list of items to bring to school that has to be hauled in by a pickup truck and our property taxes keep getting raised to fund schools. If we don’t wake up soon this next generation won’t be able to do squat. We are at fault for electing losers for our state leadership. And while I’m at it I’ll bet you that Haley is still pulling the strings at the Capitol. Lord help us if Tate is elected. Damn this place is corrupt. I wish it wasn’t but it is.

By the way, I’m a blue collar business owner who has seen the surge in a demand for labor since our newly elected President took office. I have scrambled to find employees unlike when the previous president was in office I had to lay off 90% of my workforce.

Anonymous said...

"..you can't eliminate negative behavior with positive reinforcement there will never be a solution."

There is no plan to eliminate negative behavior. The plan is simply to keep tossing food and trinkets up into the wagon so the slothful get fatter and keep riding. God help us all should we stop that process and they climb down.

Anonymous said...

"I sure would love to know how the deal the State cut to fund education with casino revenue is doing because the last time I looked..."

The last time I looked there was no deal cut by the State to fund education with casino revenue. If you cite evidence of that, please do. There was nothing in any bill, any bill markup or any bill attachment that mentioned funding education with casino revenue. You heard that down at the barber shop...or maybe out by your welding machine.

Anonymous said...

2 Thessalonians 3:10- "If you don't work, you don't eat." I'm for helping those who can't help themselves, but our government giveaway programs have created an entire population segment of leaches.

Anonymous said...

How many people are within walking distance of one of those jobs? How many people live in rural areas where there isn't public transportation and they have no hope of affording a car capable of driving them 30-40 miles to work? How many of those jobs pay them well enough to put gas in a car to get to work? Generational poverty is tough to break and there are a host of reasons why. Some of it is now children who have never seen a member of their immediate family hold a job. People in poverty tend to be depressed and it is hard to see how you are ever going to have better than what you have right now. I've helped families and it take a deep commitment to see them through real challenges. And, yes sometimes they make stupid decisions with their money, but most of us do- we just don't suffer the consequences in the same way. We have a family who worked opposite shifts at fast food place- rode a bike to get there. Razor thin margins on their budget. Out of work two days with an ice storm last year. That couple hundred dollars lost was the difference between paying rent and being out on the street. Another single mother friend who has worked for nine years at the same fast casual restaurant had to go to the hospital several years ago. Sixteen thousand dollars and a payment plan later she faithfully paid something every month but not the agreed upon amount. (The amount the hospital had her sign for to get out was more than she could possibly pay.) The hospital had her wages garnished and now there is no way for her to make ends meet. If we had known earlier we would have helped her file for bankrupcy from the beginning knowing she could never make the agreed upon payments. Living without a safety net is tough. The term "working poor" exists for a reason. Not everyone receiving benefits isn't working and everyone receiving benefits isn't in a position to work. Companies won't go where there isn't an educated workforce and they won't go where the workforce can't get to them. I seriously wonder if we shouldn't offer to move people to cities where they have a chance of finding work.

Anonymous said...

5:49, since he is part of the group that likes to think Haley is still pulling the strings and hates Tate, he likes to make up his 'facts' to cover his rants. As you say there was never any such deal or plan - but don't confuse this cult member by trying to introduce truth to him. He's too busy building birdhouses.

Anonymous said...

5:49, that was one of the selling points. And it was only for the city and county where the casino was situated I can’t hear your sarcasm over the hum of my welding machines, which by the way are running 7 days a week. Now you have a dumbed down sector or society that can’t do anything except thumb around on a smart phone and play video games. But I suppose a smart feller like you knows all the answers, or either you’re a guvmint worker.

Anonymous said...

6:48 - cite please for 'one of the selling points'. Don't know about in individual counties when they held their local option elections, and what the county would do with its share (because, know you hate to admit it but primary funding for education comes from local, not state, funding) but there was absolutely no commitent of the funding when casino gambling was passed by the legislature.

An anticipation of increased revenue? - Absolutely

Additional revenue would help fund state expenses? - Absolutely, including Medicaid, highways, mental health, public safety, etc - and of course including education.

But unlike the great myth that some love to throw out that probably weren't even paying attention 16 years ago, there was no commitment of the 8%casino tax for any particular part of government.

And no, I'm not a gubment worker. And, I am proud and happy that your welders are running full time. And also agree with the premise for more quality vo-tech education, although I think ( and yes, I have run businesses, some even involved some serious welders) your concept is somewhat short sighted, but details are things for discussions and negotiations.

Your laughable concept of Haley still running stuff at the Capitol is just as wrong as are the many other conspiracy theories revolving around current state leadership.

Anonymous said...

6:48 - cite please for 'one of the selling points'. Don't know about in individual counties when they held their local option elections, and what the county would do with its share (because, know you hate to admit it but primary funding for education comes from local, not state, funding) but there was absolutely no commitent of the funding when casino gambling was passed by the legislature.

An anticipation of increased revenue? - Absolutely

Additional revenue would help fund state expenses? - Absolutely, including Medicaid, highways, mental health, public safety, etc - and of course including education.

But unlike the great myth that some love to throw out that probably weren't even paying attention 16 years ago, there was no commitment of the 8%casino tax for any particular part of government.

And no, I'm not a gubment worker. And, I am proud and happy that your welders are running full time. And also agree with the premise for more quality vo-tech education, although I think ( and yes, I have run businesses, some even involved some serious welders) your concept is somewhat short sighted, but details are things for discussions and negotiations.

Your laughable concept of Haley still running stuff at the Capitol is just as wrong as are the many other conspiracy theories revolving around current state leadership.

Anonymous said...

"Another single mother friend who has worked for nine years at the same fast casual restaurant had to go to the hospital several years ago. Sixteen thousand dollars and a payment plan later she faithfully paid something every month but not the agreed upon amount. (The amount the hospital had her sign for to get out was more than she could possibly pay.) The hospital had her wages garnished and now there is no way for her to make ends meet. If we had known earlier we would have helped her file for bankrupcy from the beginning knowing she could never make the agreed upon payments. "

So - what's the name of that hospital? You'd be performing a much-needed public service to help other people in similar situations avoid a similar problem.

So - the name?

Anonymous said...

BLS statistics, 9/18: 62.8% of total workforce are working or looking for work.

Anonymous said...

The rest of the story is this: Kids in K-12 by and large are NOT being expected to do anything except have fun. "Let them be kids". Expectations to work? You have got to be kidding. Even at the college level, students are not expected to even come to class consistently. Workforce leaders constantly talk about poor attitudes and poor punctuality. It's Mississippi's actual educational system top to bottom that teaches them they don't have to do anything, they can get a note from home and maybe have to do some kind of alternative assignment. It's the elephant in the room, education isn't happening.....yet even the new State Auditor takes the MDE's word. Mississippi's educational system breeds laziness and contempt for reporting for work, much less being managed by an authority figure that they cannot comprehend because their parents were their best buddies.

Anonymous said...

People in the metro area take for granted of living in a metropolitan area.

We have people that work at Nissan that live well over 40+ miles away from the plant. Hell, even at my own job I have a co-worker that travels 60 miles one way. So that is 120 miles, traveling between Claiborne County to Hinds County Monday thru Friday.

Think about the cost of gas, maintenance on their vehicle.

Mississippi is not a worker-friendly state when you consider distances people have to go for menial wage jobs.

Anonymous said...

12:29 - Surely you're not suggesting that Nissan is a 'menial wage job'. But, that aside, if somebody is driving 120 miles RT every day and spending more for gas than he's making, that's not a state issue....it's an IQ test.

Oh, But I Can't Get There... said...

6:15; If you were alive in 1967 through 1978, you might have seen hundreds of plants locate in the areas you speak of. And the government paid 50% of the wages during a training period. That was called the Federal OJT Program. I helped administer it all over the Mississippi Delta. It was a grande plan that didn't pan out due largely to the fact that the workforce, once receiving a check or two for weekly output, failed to show up again.

We brought jobs to people. And if they needed transportation, we paid for that as well. We paid for busing and group transportation and gave out weekly transportation stipends as well as meal stipends. But, it required something called commitment on the part of the employees/trainees, and that was the missing component.

So, please stop with your bullshit of jobs being in areas inaccessible to those who need them. With government assistance, we have tried everything imaginable to link people with jobs. Sometimes, though, the best efforts fail.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).


Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.


In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.


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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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