Jobs numbers came out yesterday. The news, unsurprisingly, is not good. From the
Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics blog, Brian Blackstone writes, “According to the Labor Department, initial jobless claims were their highest since September 2001. The four-week average – which smoothes out weekly volatility – was its highest since March 1991. And continuing claims lasting more than one week were their highest since January 1983. What do those three dates have in common? All came either during or right after the last three NBER recessions.”
Things around here aren’t lookin’ too bright either. According to the GA Department of Labor, first-time filings for unemployment insurance claims in metro Savannah surged 62 percent over the past year, with 1,403 workers in Chatham, Effingham and Bryan counties filing claims during October 2008. And of course we must remember that these numbers do not consider the legions of underemployed or people who’ve lost their jobs, but never filed for unemployment benefits.Local lay-offs have hit every sector -particularly construction, manufacturing and retail. JCB’s recent announcement to layoff 120 at its Savannah plant, signals that we still may have a way to fall before things start to turn around.
Nobody really knows how long this downturn (recession) will last, but we do know that it will take a lot more than government bailouts to get us going again. The president-elect has said that he wants to invest in high-tech green industries. That would be a welcome change, but I don’t think we can afford to wait and see how his campaign promises trickle down to Savannah. Especially because we already have the assets to get started right away . . . a sampling:
1) Commitments from local government: Step-Up Savannah, Thrive, Healthy Savannah, the MPC 2010 Sustainability Initiative and Chatham County Commission’s resolution to be the greenest county in Georgia
2) Training potential: a worldclass, career oriented art college (architecture, interior design, historic preservation, urban design, industrial design, fibers, fashion, graphic design, etc.), a local YouthBuild program and the only solar installation class offered in Georgia at Savannah Tech -Training is absolutely critical to the creation of green jobs
3) Active NGOs: Savannah Chapter of the US Green Building Council, the Creative Coast Alliance, Savannah Bicycle Campaign, AWOL, Historic Savannah Foundation, the faith community writ large, Youth for a Cleaner Environment -These groups have either expertise, organizing power, existing complimentary programs or all of the above
High-tech green industries are an excellent long term goal, but let’s start with simpler things that create jobs, benefit the environment, require little capital investment and have a big short-term payoffs for penny-pinching consumers . . . urban agriculture and really unglamorous, but immense energy saving stuff like weatherstripping and insulation come to mind.
Learn a lot more about green collar jobs on the Green for All website . . . and let’s tell our local officials that we are ready for green jobs now.