SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

January 9, 2014

Our view: A two-track recovery

The crowd of local business leaders gathered yesterday morning over bacon and eggs for the North Shore Chamber of Commerce’s annual economic forecast was greeted with a mostly positive outlook for 2014.

Rob Lutts of Salem’s Cabot Money Management and David Caruso of Coastal Capital of Danvers both expect the economy to continue to expand in the new year, with a healthy stock market for investors, a wealth of venture capital for innovators and increasingly healthy balance sheets for recession-weary companies.

Lutts pointed out, however, that the economy is improving along two separate tracks. For highly educated, skilled workers — “basically, everyone in this room,” he said, gesturing to the crowd gathered at the Danversport Yacht Club — the recovery is moving apace. Trained workers are once again in demand.

For the unemployed members of the so-called “unskilled” labor force, Lutts said, the going has been much more difficult. Many jobs that disappeared during the recession simply aren’t coming back as companies increased efficiency.

Those workers need to be trained for new jobs, Lutts said, noting the important role schools such as North Shore Community College can play in the effort.

That retraining takes time, which is one more reason why Congress needs to extend emergency jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

Earlier this week, the Senate passed a measure to start a debate on restoring benefits to an estimated 1.3 million long-term jobless — including 60,000 in Massachusetts — who were cut off when the program expired Dec. 28. The extension would also delay a cutoff in benefits for another 1.9 million people. Federal coverage averages about $256 a week and lasts from 14 to 47 weeks. State-funded benefits typically run out after 26 weeks (30 in Massachusetts).

The measure faces a much tougher road in the House, where Republicans are balking at the $6.5 billion price tag. Others, such as Rand Paul of Kentucky, argue that an extension would simply let the unemployed put off looking for work, “to become part of this perpetual unemployed group in our economy.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion

AP Video
Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins
Comments Tracker
Roll Call
Helium debate
Helium