Archive for Saturday, April 11, 2009

Employment trouble

Lawrence’s job loss rate exceeds state’s

Cabinet makers Leonard Higgins, left, and Cody Robertson pass some down time Friday by shooting hoops on a basketball court they have improvised at Tolar Cabinets. Work orders are down due to the recession.

Cabinet makers Leonard Higgins, left, and Cody Robertson pass some down time Friday by shooting hoops on a basketball court they have improvised at Tolar Cabinets. Work orders are down due to the recession.

April 11, 2009

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Cabinet maker Steve Tatum keeps busy by sanding a solid surface counter top at Tolar Cabinets even though work orders are down due to the recession.

Cabinet maker Steve Tatum keeps busy by sanding a solid surface counter top at Tolar Cabinets even though work orders are down due to the recession.

More signs have emerged that Lawrence is on a long losing streak when it comes to jobs, and that local job losses have been happening faster than in many other parts of the state.

The latest numbers from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics show that Douglas County has suffered through 10 straight months of job losses — dating from December 2007 to September 2008, the latest month for which statistics are available.

“The numbers show that we need to be thankful for every job we have right now,” said City Commissioner Rob Chestnut, who is scheduled to be selected by fellow commissioners on Tuesday to serve as mayor. “We need to support our local businesses any way we can.”

According to the numbers — which unlike unemployment numbers, measure only jobs that are actually within the county — Lawrence’s job situation grew bleaker in the third quarter of 2008. From July through September, Douglas County lost an average of 1,600 jobs each month, when compared to the same month in 2007. Percentage-wise, the county saw its job totals drop by 3.4 percent per month during the quarter.

Another way to look at it is this: in August 2001, there were 47,051 jobs in Douglas County. Seven years later in August 2008 — despite years of population gains — there were 1,357 fewer jobs in the county.

The latest numbers also show a continuation of a trend that has emerged this year. Douglas County and Lawrence are losing jobs at a rate greater than the state as a whole and greater than surrounding counties. For the third quarter of 2008, the state’s job totals essentially held steady — posting an increase of less than one-tenth of a percent — while Douglas County lost jobs at a 3.4 percent rate.

Economic development leaders weren’t certain why Lawrence’s rate of job loss was greater than many other Kansas communities. Beth Johnson, Lawrence Chamber of Commerce vice president of economic development, said it likely was because Lawrence’s economy is more dependent upon construction-related jobs.

Johnson said she would use the new numbers to urge community leaders to agree upon an economic development strategy that would diversify Lawrence’s economy.

“One of the things that we can do as a community is decide what we want,” Johnson said. “What type of businesses do we want, what type of jobs do we want?”

Johnson said the recent City Commission campaign featured a lot of talk about economic development strategies, but she thinks more details need to be developed.

“The big mantra during the election was helping small businesses,” Johnson said. “We need to have a real heart to heart with small businesses and hear what we can do to help them.

“But I can tell you a lot of them say that what would help them most is a new business with about 500 employees coming to town because that will create new business for them.”

Chestnut said one of his first goals as mayor will be to hear the ideas that new commissioners Aron Cromwell and Lance Johnson have on the subject. Both talked about job creation extensively on the campaign trail, but both had differing opinions on how to best grow jobs.

Johnson touted the need for an attitude change at City Hall that makes it clear that the city is welcoming to business. Cromwell said the city needs to shift its economic development efforts to focus more on growing small businesses, especially in the tourism and retirement industries.

“We definitely need to have a conversation about what our strengths are as a community, and what differentiates us from other communities so we can better sell ourselves,” Chestnut said.

Comments

Chris Ogle 6 years ago

. “We need to support our local businesses any way we can."

Please do that, Mr. Chestnut..... by making it easier for any business to STAY in Lawrence. Our site plan process is not a "welcome business" sign..... in fact it is quite the opposite.

lawthing 6 years ago

Lawrence leaders say;

"we need to support our local businesses any way we can"


Ist this a "do as i say"..." not as I do" moment?

YouPeopleAreCrazy 6 years ago

I'm surprised at those numbers, I didn't think Lawrence had any jobs. I was looking at buying a house here until I realized that about the only jobs here are for college kids. I don't want to drive to Topeka and KC just to find work. This town and it's priorities are so backa$$wards.

Thats_messed_up 6 years ago

“One of the things that we can do as a community is decide what we want,” Johnson said. “What type of businesses do we want, what type of jobs do we want? ........and then turn down the ones we don't want.

Cromwell said the city needs to shift its economic development efforts to focus more on growing small businesses, especially in the tourism and retirement industries..............Cromwell the new Booger Highbooger.

Lawrence has earned it's hippie "NO to outsiders" reputation. Nobody wants to bring a real company to this arrogant town.

jumpin_catfish 6 years ago

So who is surprised by this! The agenda of the liberal progressives has been successful by slowing growth to a snail's pace while wasting tax dollars fighting Walmart which is creating jobs but then we must fund boondoggles like the T which is a leech on the tax payers wallets. Add a recession to the mix and there you are my friends. These are just a few examples of a poorly managed city. New city commission will not do any better I fear.

LadyJ 6 years ago

And yet the city would rather do away with 15 lower paying jobs instead of 1 higher paying unnecessary job. That is 15 people having trouble paying bills, finding a job, and having no money to spend in Lawrence versus 1 person who probably shops out of town. Amazing, they really are showing how they care about the welfare of the citizens.

Leslie Swearingen 6 years ago

I agree with you LadyJ. It is the working class that needs help, and work. These are the people that put the food on the shelves, bag the food, give you your fast food, take tickets at the theater, clean the street, you know, the "little" people that you don't notice? They spend the money they earn and pay taxes as well. They pay rent and support the schools. They are good citizens. They are the foundation of the community. This is a good time of the year to remember that a house built on sand, well you know the rest.

rabi1976 6 years ago

For the last 20 years Lawrence/Douglas county has resisted growth in the form of business coming to town and placed the tax burden on the homeowners. We just want people to sleep/live here so that we can rape them on their property taxes. Lack of jobs in Lawrence has nothing to do with the Federal Reserve System, etc and it is a ridiculous statement. We want residents that can afford a $300,000.00 home not blue collar workers. Right?????

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 years ago

Jumpin Catfish and Ocean seem to be my alter egos. I have lived in Lawrence for over 30 years and nothing much has changed. It is a bucolic little one-horse college town that serves as a bedroom community to KC and Topeka for those folks who do not want to live in those localities. The city commission here (a most un-effective form of city government) has always been populated by air-heads with roundabout mentalities. Nothing creative or effective ever happens, just the same old drivel. Jobs?? those people do not need them, they are just another eye-sore on the "greenspace".

cowboy 6 years ago

If this article does not display the total cluelessness of the commissioners and the economic development leaders then just dip me in a big pile of Sh$t. Just what does Beth Johnson actually do ? Dever , you've been in office over a year now , how do your spend your city compensated time? Uh well um we need to have a um well a meeting , yeah lets have a meeting and um well talk about it and try to reach a consensus , yeah a sustainable consensus , thats what we need , and then we'll sing Kumbaya for awhile.

Dumb meet Dumber.

oldcat 6 years ago

Wilbur, please explain your hatred of Lawrence.

dandelion 6 years ago

The problem in Lawrence isn't the progressives, it's the economic powers that be. If we brought in real companies for the working class, the housing developers, retail, and other businesses (including the World Company) already here would have competition for the labor force, and they would have to pay higher wages. Ask the girl (and notice that they are mostly girls checking, very few in departments that pay better) who checks you out at Checker how much she makes. It's zilch. And notice that they don't stick around long, or care about customer service.

Also, real jobs for the working class have been removed from this country in general. Try and buy anything made in the US. These big companies are destroying the working class, but they complain if we try to tax them, so the people they put out of a job won't starve to death. The only thing that has trickled down in this country in the last 8 years, or for that matter during Reagan's regime is excrement.

lawthing 6 years ago

Lawrence sucks in a lot of ways and did not even make the list for 10 best places to live in Kansas!

lawthing 6 years ago

Lawrence is a big city still run like a small town. The politics here are just not working.

The good ole boy, scratch each others back system, lacking oversight is eventually going to break this City financially, because it breeds corruption. And opens the door to lawsuits!

lawthing 6 years ago

No elected mayor

no citizen review board

a city council that makes decisions without public votes.

no system in place to review public concerns, outside the commission, and they are too afraid to step up.

lawthing 6 years ago

The city of Lawrence does not run its Government with transparency.

They do not make public how many lawsuits they settle a year.

They only cry poverty and want to raise taxes, for cover-up

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