Without job creation, N.H. can’t move forward
New Hampshire’s workers have fared better than many in this recession, but it hasn’t been easy.As we approach the beginning of a new session in our Legislature, I ask our legislators to refocus their efforts on creating jobs and strengthening our state economy.It’s clear that the policies that our Legislature pushed in its last session are not working for Granite Staters. According to the New Hampshire Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau, 3,000 workers lost their jobs in July, sending the unemployment rate climbing by 0.3 percent. Private-sector jobs simply are not growing at a rate high enough to replace the public sector jobs being eliminated — in fact, nearly 1,900 private-sector jobs were lost in July alone.The latest jobs data also raises concerns about a fundamental restructuring of our economy toward one dominated by low-wage, low-skill jobs that can’t sustain our state in the long term. In July alone, the most recent month for which data is available, 1,300 private-sector jobs in management, science and technology, paying an average of $27 an hour, dried up.Meanwhile, job growth has been concentrated in low-wage, no-benefit professions like food service and tourism, even accounting for seasonal adjustments.Legislators victorious at the polls last November were given a mandate to create jobs and keep our economy strong. But instead of delivering on their campaign promises, many legislators launched a relentless series of attacks on working people.Instead of creating jobs, legislators disenfranchised students and seniors, cut Medicaid for seniors and the disabled, and passed a budget that eliminated 9,000 jobs. What was passed off as a jobs bill, the wrongly named right-to-work law, is not a proven job creator, but has been proven to lower wages for workers across the board.Worse, Granite Staters weren’t even given a chance to object. When we flooded the State House to disagree with the direction that our Legislature was heading, House Speaker Bill O’Brien shut the doors in our faces.Rather than represent the interests of all of his constituents during this last session, O’Brien has pandered to an extreme tea party agenda at the expense of New Hampshire’s most vulnerable residents.And sadly, the upcoming session promises to be no different. The tea party enthusiasts in our Legislature have already vowed to override Gov. John Lynch’s veto of right-to-work and to repeal our best-value contracting law — legislation that keeps costs down and creates jobs in our state by pushing state government agencies to be smarter about awarding contracts.This fall, we need to step back from partisan struggles and refocus on what really matters. As our economy recovers, our government has a responsibility to foster an environment where people have access to good jobs and can support their families. The results from our last legislative session are clear: Without a strong commitment from our legislators to invest in job creation, New Hampshire cannot move forward.We ask our lawmakers to create jobs, instead of slandering the people looking for one.We ask for concrete proposals to spend our state dollars smarter.And we ask our lawmakers to work to protect good middle-class jobs, to ensure a better future for our children.Mark MacKenzie is president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO.