The Sanford administration keeps looking for explanations for the fact that we have too much unemployment in South Carolina. First, when the Employment Security Commission ran out of money for jobless benefits (the function of the tax being cut awhile back, combined with — duh — dramatically rising unemployment), he said it's gotta be the ESC's fault; they must be inefficient or something.
Now, his Commerce Secretary's come up with an alternative explanation: It's all that dope. From the AP:
Taylor briefed Gov. Mark Sanford and his Cabinet on today about why he pushed the Employment Security Commission to document why people are out of work and how frequently they claim jobless benefits.
Taylor says the state needs to teach people that failed drug tests will keep them out of work for months. He says recruiting businesses to places with high drug test failure rates doesn't help.
The commission's three members face a Monday deadline to turn over information to Sanford or risk being fired. Sanford says his office will review the data before he decides their fate.
South Carolina's jobless rate was 9.5 percent in December.
Call it the Michael Phelps theory…
Of course, this has the state spin cycle up at full throttle. I first heard of the Taylor comment when I got this response from the S.C. Democrats:
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Carol Fowler on Monday called upon Gov. Mark Sanford to apologize for Secretary of Commerce Joe Taylor's slurs against South Carolina’s unemployed workers.
According to The Associated Press, Taylor who Sanford appointed as Secretary of Commerce in 2006, told the governor and others attending his cabinet meeting Monday that South Carolina workers are having trouble finding jobs because of their drug use.
“Instead of looking for real solutions to our state’s unemployment crisis, the governor and his cabinet are flailing around desperately, looking for any excuse that will divert blame during this time of crisis. The Secretary of Commerce is supposed to be the state’s ambassador for recruiting new businesses, but Sanford’s pick has been a failure. Taylor’s comments reflect Gov. Sanford’s desperation to distract attention from South Carolina’s deep unemployment problems, and demonstrate his own poor management skills in supervising the Department of Commerce, which is part of his cabinet,” said Fowler.
“Sanford would rather slur the reputation of South Carolina workers than own up to his own failings and risk his ambition to be president. He and Taylor seem to have no evidence backing up the accusations of drug abuse, they just throw it out there in hopes it will stick.”
South Carolina’s unemployment rate was lower than the nation’s almost every year from 1975 through 2000. But the state’s average yearly jobless rate has been significantly higher than the nation’s since Sanford took office. In December it stood at 9.5 percent – the nation’s third highest, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
I can't wait to hear the rest of this story…
(And no, that's not a photo of Joe demonstrating, a la Ross Perot, how drug use and unemployment converge on a chart. It just looks like it. That's a file photo.)