Playing the unemployment blame game

On the national level, it’s the Republicans touting high unemployment and blaming it on President Obama.

On the state level, it’s the Democrats who eagerly greet each piece of bad employment news, only they blame it on the local Republicans:

Representative Leon Stavrinakis Statement on Spike in SC Jobless Rate
Charleston, SC – South Carolina’s jobless rate rose to 9.4% in June from 9.1% in May, while Charleston County’s unemployment rate rose significantly from 7.9% last month to 8.5% in June. Charleston State Representative Leon Stavrinakis released a statement in response:
“These unemployment numbers are troubling and unacceptable for the Charleston area and the state of South Carolina as a whole. As the nation’s unemployment rate continues to drop or hold steady, South Carolina’s rate is going in the wrong direction and at an alarmingly fast rate. Perhaps Governor Haley should stop her international travels and simply attending every press opportunity she can find so she can actually put real time and work into creating jobs in South Carolina. The last place potential businesses want to relocate is a state led by a Governor who is only interested in being a celebrity, cutting education, and refusing to invest in infrastructure. We can also be sure that Governor Haley’s recent budget attacks on existing South Carolina industry are not helping our ability to attract and recruit jobs to our state. It is time for Governor Haley to quit stalling and present the legislature with a comprehensive jobs plan. If she refuses to give us a plan, I suggest she take a look at the plan I released months ago,  which to date she has not indicated she has even taken the time to read.”

Funny how things can look so different from Columbia (or Charleston) than they do from Washington.

40 thoughts on “Playing the unemployment blame game

  1. Brad

    And when I get the routine, obligatory email from Joe Wilson blaming Obama, I’ll share that with you as well.

  2. Doug Ross

    It’s not Obama or Haley’s fault. It is Congress (as a whole) and the SC State Legislature (as a whole) that bear the brung of responsibility.

    Tax laws and business regulations impact jobs.

  3. bud

    The high unemployment rate in the US and SC is the result of obstructionist policies by the GOP to prevent meaningful stimulus policies that could alleviate much of the suffering by millions who are either out of work or underemployed. Governments should be hiring workers not letting them go. It’s no wonder that SC is high on the unemployment list. Even with new industries moving in, like Boeing, the destructive nature of conservative politics that treats all government workers as some kind of evil zombies intent on stealing the “job creators” first born child can only result in high unemployment. It’s time to get rid of the GOP scoundrels and elect Democrats so we can get the state and national economy moving again.

    The solution is simple. Lets spend huge amounts of money at the federal level to help state and local governments hire more cops, teachers and firefighters. We pay for this by raising taxes on the “job providers” and by cutting (gutting if you prefer) the wasteful military machine. We’d create a fairer country while at the same time reduce the dangerous and meddlesome foreign policy agenda that serves as a type of catnip for anyone elected to the presidency.

  4. Juan Caruso

    Just wondering the obvious: How long did you serve in the “wasteful military machine”?

  5. Doug Ross


    How many of the unemployed in SC do you believe are qualified to be teachers, police, and firemen?

    Most of the unemployed don’t even have high school diplomas. What kind of jobs are you going to create for them?

    Check the want ads sometime… there are plenty of jobs for people with marketable skills.

  6. Brad

    Doug, I am close to an alarming number of unemployed people — and no, I’m not just talking about journalists, but people from a wide variety of callings — and an even larger number of underemployed. And pretty much all are highly skilled people with college educations.

    You might be surprised to learn that even if you are a highly skilled person and there are jobs in the classifieds calling for people with marketable skills, it does no good if those aren’t the same skills that you have spent much time and money developing.

    I would further add that there just aren’t all that many jobs in the classifieds, period, compared to a normal, healthy economy. One of the things that threw so many journalists out of work was the sudden virtual disappearance of help wanted, auto and real estate ads, all at the same time.

    The class of people you are maligning, I suppose, are those who were unemployed when unemployment was low. Those would be the people without skills — good economic times aren’t much help to them.

  7. bud

    That “look at the help wanted ads” canard has long ago been discredited as nonsense. If there are 100 jobs in the help wanted section and 1000 people looking for work you still have 900 folks who are out of work.

    Also, if you were to hire more teachers etc. those workers spend money on clothes, furniture, meals etc. that will eventually require lower skilled workers. It’s the classic multiplier effect. Government spends $1 to help hire a few workers and eventually that translates into $5, 6, 7 or more dollars in economic benefit that translates into workers.

    But what the GOP is doing has exactly the opposite effect by blunting economic stimulus by way of destroying government jobs. The very powerful economic engine of commerce can do wonders but when it’s saddled with a hostile spending environmnent it can’t do it’s magic.

    And that’s why healthy businesses sit on the sidelines with $billions in cash just waiting for customers. And yes I’ll play the blame game. This is the fault of the GOP, plain and simple.

  8. Steven Davis II

    Brad – That’s why one should learn a trade as well as all that fancy book learnin’. If my job goes away today, I can wake up tomorrow and earn at minimum $20/hr. doing something else. If for no other reason, if something breaks around my house I have the skills to fix it. People around here pay guys $60 to mow their lawns, and the guy is there for less than an hour.

    Improvise, adapt and overcome… don’t just sit there and cry.

  9. Steven Davis II

    @bud – “Governments should be hiring workers not letting them go.”

    So bud is for a larger government rather than a smaller government. Who’s going to pay these new employee’s salaries, taxpayers? What bud never figures out is how to pay for his ideas.

  10. Kathryn Fenner

    Also, it is reported that most employers only want to hire people who already have jobs!

  11. Doug Ross


    The statistics are there for you to check out any time you’d like instead of checking your circle of acquaintances.

    The national unemployment rate for high school dropouts is 12% and only 4% for degree holders.

    A 4% unemployment rate is considered full employment normally.

    I’m not “surprised” that some people with skills are out work. It happens all the time. Bad things happen to good people. Some skills are not always going to be required forever. Industries go through transitions and nobody is guaranteed a job for life doing what they want, where they want, for a salary they believe is fair.

    What would you suggest be done to create jobs for those people? Government jobs, as Bud suggests? Doing what?

  12. Doug Ross

    And I’m wondering where I maligned anyone by saying:

    “Most of the unemployed don’t even have high school diplomas. What kind of jobs are you going to create for them? ”

    How does that malign someone?

  13. Doug Ross

    Interesting information from that table of unemployment statistics – only about 45% of high school dropouts are even seeking work (Participation Rate) compared with 75% of college degree holders.

    How does one exist without a) a high school degree and b) no interest in finding a job?

  14. Brad

    Doug, I don’t think you meant to do so, but the way you worded that suggested that there’s no problem here, because only the useless people are unemployed.

    And if only 4 percent of the skilled are out of work, then I suspect that when the overall unemployment rate is 4 percent (as you say, in the realm of full employment), the rate among that subset is close to zero.

    And back to the anecdotal — I used to not know people in my own demographic, in terms of education and skills and accomplishments — who were unemployed. Now I do.

    I’ve read articles about how this recession was different (sorry, I wasn’t able to find any of them just now) in that instead of layoffs hitting blue-collar people in cycle-sensitive industries, white-collar people were being laid off, too, causing anxiety among a class that was used to thinking of layoffs as something that happened to people unlike them.

    Can anybody remember reading something like that, so you can help me find the link? I’ve run across it more than once, I’m just having trouble laying my hands on it right now…

  15. Doug Ross

    Here’s why I believe I have never been unemployed and don’t expect to:

    I’ve worked in the technology industry for almost 30 years. During that time I have switched my focus to respond to changing conditions four times. I have also moved once from New Hampshire to South Carolina just as one of the companies I worked for was exhibiting signs of heading downward (they went from 135,000 employees to about 40,000 over a few years before being bought by Compaq). I also made the personal decision to enter the consulting field twenty years ago which meant spending upwards of 150 nights per year on the road across the country.

    I’m not saying all unemployed people are unrealistic in their expectations but there are choices that can be made (hard choices) that can limit the downside risk.

  16. Doug Ross

    All I asked was what kind of jobs Bud would expect to create for high school dropouts. It’s a valid question. I’m guessing there were a lot of textile/factory jobs for them in the past in SC. Those jobs are gone for good. What else can they do?

  17. Silence

    Meanwhile, the number of people on disability has hit an all time high.

    Doug’s question was valid – If you don’t have any valuable skills, what job should you expect to find? Why would someone expect to get paid a location premium (US vs. Vietnam, say) to do the same unskilled labor, transportation costs not withstanding?

  18. j

    Bud you’re right on your observations, but you may have hit the “B’ key rather than the “T” in citing the amount of cash assets ($s in trillions) businesses are hoarding. They’re waiting on an increase in demand before expanding and employing more. BUT, Willard says they need a tax decrease & deregulation so they will start hiring more people! So Bain!

  19. Brad

    The thing about high school dropouts is that there are plenty of jobs they COULD do — loading and unloading trucks on a dock, or sweeping up at a store, or providing labor to a landscaping service.

    But I’m supposing there are probably people WITH diplomas, and maybe even some college, available for those jobs now. And why not hire someone with more skills if you can?

  20. Silence

    At some point it’s better to just sit at home and collect minimal benefits than it is to go out and do maximum physical labor. That being said, I haven’t seen any unswept floors or fully laden trucks sitting around, so someone is obviously doint those things, maybe former journalists. My garden could use some tending, but the landscaper I called wanted 400 bucks just to show me what they’d want to do to fix it up.

    Anyways, it’s just like Judge Smails told Danny Noonan: “Well, the world needs ditch diggers too.”

  21. Steven Davis II

    There’s a guy in my small hometown who dropped out of high school in the 10th grade… he went on to build and own a multi-million dollar business manufacturing military vehicles and military trailers. Sure beats emptying out trucks and sweeping up around a store…

    On the opposite side of the spectrum, I know people with advanced degrees working at Starbucks… sweeping up is probably part of their job duties.

  22. Kathryn Fenner

    Doug–as I have said before, you are exceptional, an outlier. I know I simply would lose the will to live if I had to live your life. You have an extremely useful skill set and temperament for what you do. Good for you. Stop extrapolating your experience onto those who are not so blessed.

  23. Kathryn Fenner

    You could easily create public works programs like they had during the Great Depression….many of our enduring state parks got started that way, and the Appalachian Trail.

  24. Steve Gordy

    Not all of us in the workforce can spend much time in commenting online, while counting the days until our state pension kicks in.

  25. Doug Ross


    You COULD create those programs. How sure are you that those who are unemployed would sign up? How many folks from rural South Carolina are going to sign up to go live in the woods and create trails?

    Go ask a McDonalds manager what his biggest problem is and I bet the answer is employee turnover. People in those jobs typically aren’t just unskilled, they are also unmotivated which makes them lousy employees. You can’t fix dumb and lazy no matter how many tax dollars you throw at them.

  26. Doug Ross


    And I’m NOT an outlier. I know far more people who have worked consistently in the IT industry for 30 years than those who have been laid off for even a short period of time. The one guy I know who did get laid off started in the cubicle next to me in 1984 and never did anything to learn new technology. He was laid off in 2010 but was still able to find another job within six months.

  27. Silence

    @Kathryn – I am all for a public works program, but so much manual labor has been mechanized – nowadays you have 10 trained people with heavy equipment doing what 1000 with shovels did in the 1930’s. I’m not sure that it’s really value added for us economically. That being said, as a social welfare program, I think putting the unemployed in work camps up in the moutains, having them maintain trails and fight fires out west isn’t the worst idea in the world.

  28. Steven Davis II

    “You can’t fix dumb and lazy no matter how many tax dollars you throw at them.”

    This should be the new South Carolina state motto.

  29. Kathryn Fenner

    People in the IT industry are outliers. It’s a very specific kind of intelligence. The only other recession proof biz is health care.

  30. Kathryn Fenner

    Sorry about that last one, using th iPad built in.

    How about a public program that provided care providers, parks workers, etc? Get creative!

  31. Doug Ross


    Care providers need to pass background checks AND have a very unique set of skill in dealing with children. They need oversight, training, etc. And who are they going to care for? Kids already in daycare (thus taking business away from existing providers)?

    You can get as creative as you want to but the bottom line is that there are probably more people unwilling and unable to do the jobs you would create than who could do them well.

  32. Steven Davis II

    “People in the IT industry are outliers.”

    Don’t hate us for what we do.

  33. Kathryn Fenner

    I meant for old or disabled people. Sorry.

    I bet if we wanted to, we could find useful things for people to do. We would also need to find child care for many.

  34. Kathryn Fenner

    How is calling someone an “outlier” in the context of saying they are thus more excellent than we can expect the general population, hate? I bet everyone who reads this blog and certainly everyone who comments is an outlier on some axis of excellence.

  35. Steven Davis II

    @Kathryn – “I bet if we wanted to, we could find useful things for people to do. We would also need to find child care for many.”

    Until you threaten to take away their government checks you’re going to find very few volunteers. I bet you could start pay at $20/hr and you’d still find out the majority would rather sit in their Section 8 home and wait for their $500/month check.

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