What do Hoosiers have against San Francisco, College Park, Maryland or Romeoville, Illinois? Those are just three cities from which companies are relocating to Indiana.
What do Hoosiers have against Arizona, Texas, California, Mexico, China, England and other places where Indiana companies have moved production, offices and even headquarters?
Our government officials are proud they can “claw back” subsidies granted to Carrier, which is moving production to Mexico over a period of years. In a paroxysm of patriotism, the Indiana House voted 60-34 to have companies repay property tax abatements they receive if the firm moves out of the country.
Our pence-wise and pound-foolish governor wants to bring more jobs to Indiana. Good, but he is sworn only to protect the constitution of Indiana, not to cause damage to people living outside our borders.
A study several years ago by the Economic Policy Institute said NAFTA cost the United States nearly 700,000 jobs. More recent work at the Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania and Donald Trump’s alma mater) says this does not take into account the gains in American jobs and the lower costs of goods to American consumers.
There is no question Indiana needs more jobs. What we seek are environmentally sound firms that improve the income of workers where they live and that reuse existing structures where possible. We need jobs that pay wages commensurate with the skills of workers, particularly in areas of high unemployment.
But where are jobs being located these days? The answer given by the actions and silence of the Indiana Economic Development Corp. is: high paying jobs, in technologically intense fields, will be located anywhere in Indiana those firms wish to locate.
This is consistent with our free market ideology. However, it is also desirable for the state to seek job growth in the 21 cities/towns where the unemployment rate is a full point above the state level (5.4 percent in February 2016, not seasonally adjusted).
In areas of chronic unemployment, it is often difficult to get to jobs, even if they are available in the next county. Many workers lack the skills to meet the demands of high tech employers. Often a full-time job relieves the burdens and tensions derived from a part-time job where unemployment is endemic and persistent.
Of these 21 places with 6.4 percent or higher unemployment rates, nine are in Lake County. Three more are nearby in Northwest Indiana (Michigan City, La Porte and Portage). The remaining nine are scattered from Logansport and Peru to Bedford and Terre Haute including the cities of Connersville, Muncie, Anderson, Marion and Martinsville.
To bring the headquarters of small and/or promising high-tech firms to metro Indianapolis is fine. To court visiting millennials, while ignoring the range of skills and experience in our state, is not consistent with working for the best interests of people who are in need.