By Edward Donga | The Patriot Ledger | October 4, 2012
A new job-creation report says the state’s employment picture could be improved by lowering business costs, investing in infrastructure, supporting public education, and coordinating workforce training programs and job search resources.
Legislators, government officials and labor representatives joined at the State House on Wednesday to present the long-awaited report, which laid out plans for growing jobs in the state.
Those plans can’t come soon enough for some South Shore communities.
Amid optimistic views on the state’s present and future economic prospects, the report noted that the South Shore Workforce Investment Area, which includes Quincy and Braintree, was among the bottom third of the state’s 16 regions in job growth since the recession began.
“Their job growth can be categorized as virtually no growth or very slow growth during the recovery and virtually no or much slower growth than the state as a whole before the recession began,” says the 69-page report, released by the Jobs Creation Commission.
Sen. Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, co-chair of the commission, was hopeful the commission’s findings would help lift all regions of the state.
“We’ve identified key strategies to not only create, but maintain quality jobs in Massachusetts,” she said.
The commission held monthly meetings from January 2011 to July 2012, as well as eight hearings with local job seekers and businesses across the state, to compile information for the report.
Spilka said one of the commission’s more optimistic findings is that Massachusetts has continually been among the top 10 states in job creation.
“We have a consistently and significantly lower unemployment rate than the national average,” she said.
The Massachusetts unemployment rate in August rose from 6.1 percent to 6.3 percent, compared to 8.1 percent for the nation.
“Jobs are the key to economic growth and the quality of life for the Commonwealth’s households,” said Dr. Alan Clayton-Matthews, professor and director of quantitative methods at Northeastern University. “They’re also the short-term solution to get out of this recession.”
One of the report’s recommendations for job growth is creating job training and placement programs for workers who have more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree
The report says the state’s greatest natural resource is its educated labor force.
“There’s nothing more friendly to business than a highly qualified, highly trained, highly skilled workforce, and that is a huge emphasis of this report,” said Timothy Sullivan, legislative and communications director for the AFL-CIO.
Some of the strategies in the report have already been implemented, such as creating a regulatory ombudsman for businesses interested in coming to Massachusetts. Spilka said other strategies might be offered as bills during the next legislative session.