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Economy on the Mend, More Work Ahead

Former Lt. Governor Matt Denn (2009-2014) | Office of the Lieutenant Governor | Date Posted: Wednesday, March 5, 2014



In January, Lt. Gov. Denn spoke to the Greater Kent County Committee about how Delaware moves ahead after coming back from the worst economic crisis to hit the state since the Great Depression. In three editorials over the next few months, he will share his thoughts regarding the economy, controlling business costs and education.

The national Bureau of Labor Statistics put our unemployment rate in Delaware at 6.5 percent in November. That’s the best it’s been in five years — it essentially puts us back to where we were when the national economy crashed in late 2008. Some people say that number is deceptive because the labor force is smaller now, but the labor-force number goes up and down over time — our state labor force today is larger than it was in November, 2010.

How does that unemployment rate compare to our neighbors? Maryland is right around where we are at 6.4 percent — but with a full 25 percent of its non-farm workforce in recession-proof government work, compared to 14.7 percent of ours. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is 7.3 percent. New Jersey’s unemployment rate is 7.8 percent. New York’s is 7.4 percent. Connecticut’s is 7.6 percent. Rhode Island’s is 9 percent.

Are we the best in the country? No. Are we even close to satisfied with being the best in the region? Absolutely not — we won’t be satisfied until every Delawarean who wants work can find it. But as we look ahead to determine how we will build on our success, we should appreciate how far we’ve come and the better place from where we start.

When we are at our best in Delaware in creating economic opportunity, we are doing three things well. First, we are making our state an attractive place for anyone to do business. We recognize that no one — least of all government agencies — bats a thousand guessing winners and losers in these unpredictable economic times, and we have to make sure that the fundamentals of our economy are such that we are an attractive place to move and grow for all types of employers.

Second, while we are strengthening our overall profile as a state to do business, we need to be smart about those economic areas where we have, or could work to have, strategic advantages, and pay special attention to those areas.

And third, when there are particular companies that are interested in locating or expanding here and offer the real prospect of putting Delawareans to work, we need to be extremely responsive to them. We can’t lose our focus on any of these three areas — it doesn’t matter, for example, how nimble or responsive we are to potential new employers, if the underlying economic environment in our state isn’t attractive to them.

Working with Chairman Gary Stockbridge, I recently announced that the state’s Workforce Investment Board is seeking permission from the federal government to implement a new program that would dramatically increase the workforce training funds made available to small businesses willing to hire and train new employees, and all businesses willing to hire and train Delawareans who have been unemployed for long periods of time.

If approved by the United States Department of Labor, the new program will allow the state to pay 90 percent of a new employee’s wages if that employee is hired by a business of 50 or fewer people or the new employee has been unemployed for over 26 weeks.

The program would be funded with existing federal workforce investment funds. The subsidy would last as long as the employee was receiving specialized training from the employer, and employers participating in the program would be required to demonstrate a commitment to keeping employees in the workplace after the expiration of the grant.

The program already exists in Delaware, but because it requires a 50-percent salary match from employers, it is not widely used.

It is a great opportunity for us to give our small businesses another tool to hire new workers and give them valuable training, and also a way for us to incentivize hiring of some of our neighbors who have been out of work for a long time. The best part is we can do it using job-training money that we already receive from the federal government.

The fundamentals are easily stated but hard to do. The governor and I hear them over and over from employers. Employers want a well- educated and trained workforce — students graduating from high school, college graduates, and adults who have learned skills after finishing school. Employers want a low cost of doing business. They want to be in a state that has a good quality of life — where they and their employees will want to live. And they want a supportive government, not one that necessarily gives them everything they want but one that listens and understands that for business, time is money.

On those fundamentals, we have solid progress to report but still a lot of work to do together.

Matt Denn
Lieutenant Governor

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Economy on the Mend, More Work Ahead

Former Lt. Governor Matt Denn (2009-2014) | Office of the Lieutenant Governor | Date Posted: Wednesday, March 5, 2014



In January, Lt. Gov. Denn spoke to the Greater Kent County Committee about how Delaware moves ahead after coming back from the worst economic crisis to hit the state since the Great Depression. In three editorials over the next few months, he will share his thoughts regarding the economy, controlling business costs and education.

The national Bureau of Labor Statistics put our unemployment rate in Delaware at 6.5 percent in November. That’s the best it’s been in five years — it essentially puts us back to where we were when the national economy crashed in late 2008. Some people say that number is deceptive because the labor force is smaller now, but the labor-force number goes up and down over time — our state labor force today is larger than it was in November, 2010.

How does that unemployment rate compare to our neighbors? Maryland is right around where we are at 6.4 percent — but with a full 25 percent of its non-farm workforce in recession-proof government work, compared to 14.7 percent of ours. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is 7.3 percent. New Jersey’s unemployment rate is 7.8 percent. New York’s is 7.4 percent. Connecticut’s is 7.6 percent. Rhode Island’s is 9 percent.

Are we the best in the country? No. Are we even close to satisfied with being the best in the region? Absolutely not — we won’t be satisfied until every Delawarean who wants work can find it. But as we look ahead to determine how we will build on our success, we should appreciate how far we’ve come and the better place from where we start.

When we are at our best in Delaware in creating economic opportunity, we are doing three things well. First, we are making our state an attractive place for anyone to do business. We recognize that no one — least of all government agencies — bats a thousand guessing winners and losers in these unpredictable economic times, and we have to make sure that the fundamentals of our economy are such that we are an attractive place to move and grow for all types of employers.

Second, while we are strengthening our overall profile as a state to do business, we need to be smart about those economic areas where we have, or could work to have, strategic advantages, and pay special attention to those areas.

And third, when there are particular companies that are interested in locating or expanding here and offer the real prospect of putting Delawareans to work, we need to be extremely responsive to them. We can’t lose our focus on any of these three areas — it doesn’t matter, for example, how nimble or responsive we are to potential new employers, if the underlying economic environment in our state isn’t attractive to them.

Working with Chairman Gary Stockbridge, I recently announced that the state’s Workforce Investment Board is seeking permission from the federal government to implement a new program that would dramatically increase the workforce training funds made available to small businesses willing to hire and train new employees, and all businesses willing to hire and train Delawareans who have been unemployed for long periods of time.

If approved by the United States Department of Labor, the new program will allow the state to pay 90 percent of a new employee’s wages if that employee is hired by a business of 50 or fewer people or the new employee has been unemployed for over 26 weeks.

The program would be funded with existing federal workforce investment funds. The subsidy would last as long as the employee was receiving specialized training from the employer, and employers participating in the program would be required to demonstrate a commitment to keeping employees in the workplace after the expiration of the grant.

The program already exists in Delaware, but because it requires a 50-percent salary match from employers, it is not widely used.

It is a great opportunity for us to give our small businesses another tool to hire new workers and give them valuable training, and also a way for us to incentivize hiring of some of our neighbors who have been out of work for a long time. The best part is we can do it using job-training money that we already receive from the federal government.

The fundamentals are easily stated but hard to do. The governor and I hear them over and over from employers. Employers want a well- educated and trained workforce — students graduating from high school, college graduates, and adults who have learned skills after finishing school. Employers want a low cost of doing business. They want to be in a state that has a good quality of life — where they and their employees will want to live. And they want a supportive government, not one that necessarily gives them everything they want but one that listens and understands that for business, time is money.

On those fundamentals, we have solid progress to report but still a lot of work to do together.

Matt Denn
Lieutenant Governor

image_printPrint

Related Topics:  , , , , , , , , , , ,


Graphic that represents delaware news on a mobile phone

Keep up to date by receiving a daily digest email, around noon, of current news release posts from state agencies on news.delaware.gov.

Here you can subscribe to future news updates.