I didn’t have much to say about South Carolina’s 11.1 percent unemployment rate, beyond these two thoughts: 1) I really hope this isn’t a double-dip recession (and if we actually got out of the first one, which I can’t tell; can you?), and 2) boyohboy am I sick of this stuff.
The disorienting thing for me about all this is that I can’t tell what’s happening. Outside of the newspaper business, I have trouble telling how things are going. I understood the economics of that, so I could tell as we went along: I can see things are bad. OK, now they’re worse. Now they’re WAY worse. Uh-oh, the PACE of getting worse just accelerated, dramatically. Whoa! The bottom just dropped out!
Not so much a roller-coaster ride as a fall down a well.
But out here in the world, where I’m immersed in the thing I was held away from, as a matter of policy — the thing called business — I’m disoriented, and have trouble telling what’s going on. Because it’s going on all around me, above me and below me and inside of me. It’s like… I read once that each man’s experience was totally different on Omaha Beach in the early hours, trapped on a limited scrap of sand that was all pre-sighted by the Germans, as death of various kinds rained down. You would experience one battle, and a guy 15 feet from you would experience something dramatically different.
This is like that, in the business world. Since I wasn’t supposed to touch business in the newspaper world, I could see it unfolding in front of me — like watching it on a screen. Now, I’m in it, and it’s much harder to see the real picture.
So some days I think things are going well, and the economy as a whole is picking up (based on what I see at ADCO and through the lenses of our various clients), and other days… not well at all. And it’s hard to make out the trend, the pattern.
Is it that way for you? Whether it is or not, I can tell that the unemployment rate climbing further is not one of the good signs. Not for any of us.
So that’s what I have to say about it. Someone writing in Salon decided to dig into the numbers, and this is what he had to say:
But a look inside the numbers, at the five worst and five best states, is unhappily revealing. The states with the five highest unemployment rates are Nevada (13.4 percent), California (12.1 percent), Michigan (11.2 percent), South Carolina (11.1 percent) and Florida (10.7 percent.) Nevada, California, Michigan and South Carolina all registered unemployment increases in August, compared to July. Florida held even.
The states with the lowest unemployment rates are North Dakota (3.5 percent), Nebraska (4.2 percent), South Dakota (4.7 percent), New Hampshire (5.3 percent) and Oklahoma (5.6 percent.)…
What does the geographical distribution of the hardest hit areas tell us? Again, not a whole lot that’s new. California, Florida and Nevada were among the three states hit hardest by the housing collapse, with Nevada getting the extra negative bonus of depressed Las Vegas tourism. Michigan, battered by globalization and the woes of the auto industry, has long been near the top of the unemployment charts. (Although the state had been improving quickly until about four months ago, when unemployment started rising again.) South Carolina’s high unemployment rate has been something of a mystery for years. Perhaps the most that can be said is that as a relatively low-tax state dominated by some of the most conservative Republican politicians in the country, it is certainly no advertisement for conservative orthodoxy, at least as far as boosting employment goes.
Of course, that’s about what you’d expect to read in Salon. Next time I see Salon saying anything positive about Republicans, it will be my first time.
They do have a point, though. We have pursued a certain course in South Carolina, in rather dramatic contrast to neighboring states such as Georgia and North Carolina, which decided to build up the kind of infrastructure — especially human infrastructure — that has made their economies stronger than ours.
I’ve lived all over in my life. And in my adult life, I’ve worked — and closely observed politics — in three states (the other two being Tennessee and Kansas). And I’ve never seen any place in this country more afflicted by self-destructive ideology than my home state of South Carolina.
So, you’ve heard what I think, and what some guy writing for Salon thinks. What do you think?