With Labor Day weekend upon us, there is not much to celebrate when you consider the jobless numbers in our region and state.
According to the Labor Department, Chautauqua County is in worse shape than it was last year at this time when it comes to the work force. Currently, the county has about 60,500 residents working, which is about 100 people fewer than last year. However, the unemployment rate has spiked - up from 7.6 percent to 8.5 percent when compared to last year.
Where are all the jobs going?
As long as our local municipalities continue their tax and spending ways, the jobs are going to states such as Indiana, Virginia and Texas. These states have a history of welcoming private-sector jobs by keeping property taxes - and fees - much lower than our region.
And while many local leaders give lip service that the high tax problem starts with Albany, do not believe it. Consider these recent municipal decisions, which greatly impact private-sector investment:
In May, the village of Fredonia raised water rates by 20 cents per thousand gallons.
Over the past three years, the village of Forestville has increased its taxes by 48 percent.
The city of Dunkirk is already talking about upping water rates in 2013.
The village of Brocton harassed a business owner because he had chipped paint on his building.
Chautauqua County legislators approved 22 percent pay hikes to part-time sheriff's deputies then complained about state pension mandates.
Add in the region's stubborn attitude against school consolidations and you have the recipe for an unfriendly business climate, which allows for an inefficient, burdensome system to stay intact while driving away private-sector development.
In the meantime, as some public employee unions fail to agree to concessions at a time when international economies are on shaky ground, some of their co-workers have lost positions due to reductions or layoffs.
In Chautauqua County government, the number of workers on the payroll has decreased from 1,485 in 2009 to 1,393 in 2011. Additionally, village governments have been slicing positions as well.
So while the most recent numbers show the U.S. jobless rate decreasing from 9.3 percent in July 2011 to 8.6 percent in July 2012, New York state is faring worse - up from 8.3 percent to 9.1 percent.
Happy Labor Day.
John D'Agostino is the OBSERVER publisher. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 366-3000, ext. 401.