Even the most Scrooge-like economic cynic has to be a bit encouraged this week by a succession of cheery reports that portray a recovery heading into the holidays with a measure of momentum.
But employers and economists have a warning – don’t break out the eggnog just yet.
On Tuesday, Associated Industries of Massachusetts announced that its November Business Confidence Index rose 3.5 points to 50.2, extending an up-and-down pattern that has prevailed for most of the year. The Index is up 3.4 from November 2012, when it was driven down by concerns about the fiscal cliff, and up 3.5 from October, when the federal government shut down.
Two days later, the government reported that the U.S. economy expanded at an annual rate of 3.6 percent in the three months ended September 30, well above the 2.8 percent estimate the Commerce Department gave in late October. The figure marks the fastest rate of economic growth since the fourth quarter of 2011 and represents a significant acceleration from the second quarter, when the economy grew at a rate of just 1.3 percent.
The final report came this morning, when the Labor Department said that the U.S. unemployment rate dropped from 7.3 percent to 7 percent in November, reaching a five year-low on the strength of 203,000 new jobs. The economy has now generated a four-month average of 204,000 jobs from August through November, up from 159,000 a month from April through July.
Long-term unemployment and underemployment are also declining.
The consecutive reports leave little doubt that the on-again, off-again four-year economic recovery is broadening. The clearest sign of improvement comes from the rising speculation that the Federal Reserve may later this month scale back the quantitative easing stimulus that jump-started the nation out of the Great Recession.
So why the “Bah, Humbug” from many business owners and economists? It may be the multitude of economic, political and business red flags that remain.
The jump in third-quarter economic growth, for example, was driven in large part by increased accumulation of inventory and a jump in federal spending, neither of which is likely to continue in the fourth quarter. Spending by businesses on equipment and software, meanwhile, declined by 2.7 percent for its first quarterly drop since 2009.
The growth in Gross Domestic Product is “a nice headline number,” Nigel Gault, chief United States economist at IHS Global Insight, told The New York Times, “but it exaggerates the underlying momentum in the economy. Sustainable improvements in growth are not driven by inventories.”
Economists now expect the economy to slow to a 1.6 percent growth rate in the final three months of the year.
Employers also appear to be increasingly exasperated with the persistent budget impasse in Washington. Economist Michael Tyler from Eastern Bank, a member of the AIM Board of Economic Advisors, said that gyrating business confidence is as much political commentary as economic outlook from Bay State Employers.
"The political goings-on in Washington undermine the confidence of many businesspeople; not one survey respondent rated national conditions 'very good'. Some state issues may also be lessening confidence at that level," Tyler said.
Massachusetts may be one of the states where confidence is increasingly at a premium. The state that outperformed the rest of the nation throughout the recession has seen its own jobless rate increase from 6.4 percent to 7.2 percent since the spring as the recession in Europe and the federal budget sequester have landed particularly hard on the commonwealth’s innovation economy.
It all adds up to another “on the one hand,” “on the other hand” year-end for Massachusetts employers. Still, it’s been a good week – we’ll take good news wherever we can find it.
Two seismic developments from the nation’s heartland this week may expand the ability of Massachusetts and its cities and towns to address a looming crisis totaling $83 billion in unfunded pension and retiree health-care obligations.
Federal Judge Steven Rhodes ruled Tuesday that public employee pensions will not be protected as the financially struggling City of Detroit initiates a Chapter 9 bankruptcy. The ruling raised the prospect that emergency City Manager Kevyn Orr (right) may seek to reduce the pensions of 23,000 retirees in an effort to address an unfunded pension liability of $3.5 billion.
Several hours later, Illinois lawmakers approved an historic overhaul of the state's government-worker pension system that would raise the retirement age for many state workers and scale back the size of - and even skip - some annual cost-of-living increases. In return, the state would put a few hundred dollars into most workers' pockets by slightly reducing the amount of money they have to chip in from their paychecks.
Unions representing public employees plan to challenge both developments in court.
All this matters to Massachusetts because Bay State taxpayers are currently saddled with $37 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and $46 billion in unfunded health-care benefits. A report issued in October by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation concludes that Massachusetts and its cities and towns have set aside just 43 percent of the money they need to pay benefits already promised to current employees and retirees.
“The troubling reality is that unfunded pension liabilities have grown over the past decade despite the enormous sums that state and municipal governments have contributed to their pension funds,” the report states.
Employers concerned about the financial stability of the communities in which they operate have become increasingly alarmed at the largely hidden problem building underneath public retirement systems. The fear is that escalating pension funding requirements will eventually impede the ability of cities and towns to provide the key services – education, public safety, roads and bridges – needed to maintain economic growth.
Analysts believe the Detroit decision and Illinois vote are unlikely to touch off a rush of bankruptcy filings by municipalities, but will undoubtedly give cities and states newfound leverage in negotiating pension benefits outside of court proceedings. At the very least, it’s a rare opportunity to address an issue that few people want to talk about in a commonwealth where nearly one-third of all state, municipal and other retirement boards are less than 60 percent funded.
City Manager Orr in Detroit provides a sobering warning about the alternative: “There’s not enough money to address the situation no matter what we do.”
Political uncertainty continues to whipsaw the economic recovery.
Massachusetts employers increasingly confident about the prospects of their own companies remain skittish about the future in the face of serial government shutdowns, default scares and a seemingly intractable partisan fiscal standoff.
The freshest evidence comes this morning from the November Associated Industries of Massachusetts Business Confidence Index, which rose 3.5 points in November to 50.2, extending the up-and-down pattern that has prevailed for some time. The Index is up 3.4 from last November, when it was driven down by concerns about the fiscal cliff, and up 3.5 from October, when the federal government shut down.
"When left alone, the economy is making progress – but with recurrent uncertainties on the political side, it isn't able to build much momentum," said Raymond G. Torto, Chairman at CB Richard Ellis Group, Inc., the chair of AIM’s Board of Economic Advisors (BEA).
"Coming back from the psychological and economic impact of the federal shutdown, employers still see an upside," said Michael A. Tyler, Chief Investment Officer, Eastern Bank Wealth Management, a BEA member. "They do not expect politics to bring growth to a halt. Also, whether or not current Federal Reserve policy is actually good for the economy today, employers do perceive it as a net positive."
The U.S. Index of business conditions prevailing nationally gained five points in November to 42.8, while the Massachusetts Index of conditions within the Commonwealth rose 2.5 to 47.0.
"These indicators must be read as containing a large component of political commentary," Tyler noted. "The political goings-on in Washington undermine the confidence of many businesspeople; not one survey respondent rated national conditions 'very good'. Some state issues may also be lessening confidence at that level. At the same time other indicators, notably those related to respondents' own operations, paint a sunnier picture of the business climate."
AIM’s Business Confidence Index has been issued monthly since July 1991 under the oversight of the Board of Economic Advisors. Presented on a scale on which 50 is neutral, its historical high was 68.5, attained in 1997 and 1998; its all-time low was 33.3 in February 2009.
Confidence readings have moved in a see-saw pattern since April, alternating modest increases and decreases never far from the neutral 50 level. The gyrations have taken place against the backdrop of a surge in unemployment in Massachusetts from 6.4 to 7.2 percent.
All of the sub-indices based on selected questions or respondent characteristics rose in November along with the main Index, and all were up from November 2012 (a weak month). The Current Index, tracking employers’ assessment of existing business conditions, added 3.1 points to 49.3, and the Future Index, measuring expectations for the next six months, gained 3.0 to 50.8.
The Company Index, which measures survey respondents’ overall confidence in the situations of their own operations, added 3.8 points in November to 55.5. The Employment Index rose 2.6 to 51.1, and theSales Index gained 2.2 to 55.2.
"The numbers have bounced back to about where they were in September, which is good news," said BEA member Sara L. Johnson, Senior Research Director of Global Economics at IHS Global Insight, "but job creation, which has been a stumbling block for economic progress, remains a concern.”
Analysts say uncertainty has seeped into state issues as well.
"The up-and-down pattern of the Business Confidence Index is part of what has been an up-and-down year for Massachusetts employers and for the state's economy," said Richard C. Lord, AIM’s President and CEO, a BEA member.
"Despite headwinds from federal tax increases and sequestration, economic growth started strong, but then weakened in the second quarter, picked up again in the third, and was probably impaired in this quarter by the shutdown. We've had some ups and downs on Beacon Hill as well, for example over the short-lived tax on software services."
Is the Massachusetts Tax Fairness Commission an oxymoron?
It’s difficult to conclude otherwise about a commission that appears to view fairness exclusively through the lens of redistributing revenue from the productive sectors of the economy to the government. When the primary conversation about tax fairness starts with “How progressive is the tax?” you know the analysis is fraught with bias and ready to veer from math towards politics.
Put another way, commission debates seem to reflect the classic aphorism that a fair tax is one I don’t have to pay.
The Tax Fairness Commission has a broad charge to “review and evaluate the equity of historical tax rates and methods in relation to the changing income and wealth of residents of the commonwealth since 1990.” The panel has already voted on guiding principles, discussed the definitions of a “fair tax” and “adequate” tax revenues, and digested tax data. Those conversations will become the body of a report due by March 1, 2014.
The ideas put forward by the commission so far range from a graduated income tax, which has been rejected on multiple occasions by Massachusetts voters, to increasing tax rates and the personal exemption, to extending the sales tax to all business services and creating a “Household Income Tax Credit” available to taxpayers below a certain income who file a return.
The commission plans to discuss “remedies” to the tax system at its next meeting tomorrow at 1:30 pm in the Comptroller’s Office, One Ashburton Place, Ninth Floor. The meeting notice is instructive: “The Tax Fairness Commission is charged with making recommendations for how to make the commonwealth’s tax system fairer. The commission, thus far, has identified areas in the tax system that add to its overall regressivity.”
Employers fear that good intentioned but misguided tax prescriptions will sicken an economy already weakened with an unemployment rate that surged from 6.4 to 7.2 percent between April and October. Jobs and economic opportunity, after all, occupy the center of the tax debate because only a vibrant, private-sector economy creates opportunity that binds the social, governmental, and economic foundations of the commonwealth.
AIM stands for jobs, fiscal predictability, business formation, innovation, education and a government that acknowledges that the private sector has the unique ability and responsibility to create the common wealth for the people of Massachusetts. The creation of a job and a person’s ability to do it weaves together every important aspect of social and economic stability – the desire for a better life, the ability to support a family, the confidence to start a business, and the need to support efficient government management of services such as education, health care, and public safety.
But the Tax Fairness Commission’s definition of equity threatens to upend the delicate balance of person, employer and job and ultimately push job opportunities to other locations - or eliminated them altogether.
A flat world economy where capital is increasingly mobile leaves no room for miscalculation. Excessive “Massachusetts-only” regulations and costs of doing business are unsustainable and put jobs at risk. And when the job is gone, the economic hope of the person and the prospect of economic security for his or her family go with it.
That’s tax fairness.
Here is an initial list of “remedies” compiled thus far by the commission:
- Raise the Commonwealth’s EITC match, which is currently 15% of the Federal EITC
- Adjusting the different rates for various sources of income
- Graduated income tax structure
- Increase rates and increase personal exemption/standard deduction
- Create more refundable tax credits/make more current credits refundable
- Expand the Circuit Breaker to all homeowners and renters, not just seniors
- Increase the dependent exemption
- Increase the renter’s deduction
- Create a “Household Income Tax Credit”, which would be available to taxpayers below a certain income who file a return. Credit could vary by income and family size and could be refundable.
- Create a “Sales Tax Relief Credit” to offset sales tax burden on low income taxpayers
Sales & Excise Taxes
- Selective sales tax
- Luxury item tax
- Taxing services
- Graduated sales tax
- Eliminate sales tax exemption on clothing, and offer an offsetting “Household” income tax credit to low and moderate income households
- Online sales tax
- Modernize the sales tax to treat all comparable products equally regardless of the manner or medium in which they are sold, ie. Expand base to include digital products
- Eliminate sales tax expenditures that have only a few recipients
- Recommend that the Legislature act upon CPAT’s recommendations on the TEB
- Tax marijuana
- Self-reporting sales tax on items over a certain amount
- Homestead exemption
- Prop 2 ½
- Extend work off program beyond seniors
- Compliance fixes
- Are there any taxes that bring in insignificant amounts and that also bring in less than they cost to administer? If so, recommend repeal.
Other Taxes Impacting Individuals
- Raise estate tax exemption from $1M
- Taxation of students
- Wealth Tax
- Vehicle miles driven tax
- Higher education surcharge
The Massachusetts Department of Public Safety has released final regulations that will exempt some manufacturing and warehouse companies from burdensome rules for licensing people who operate forklifts, overhead cranes and other hoisting equipment on company property.
State law previously required individual licenses for every operator of even small pieces of hoisting equipment commonly used in manufacturing facilities, retail outlets, warehouses and warehouse- type stores. AIM worked with state regulators two years ago to pass a law - signed by Governor Deval Patrick on October 14, 2010 – to allow the Department of Public Safety to streamline the regulations.
The proposed new regulations would expand the current exemption from the licensing and permitting requirements for public utilities to include companies operating certain hoisting equipment solely on company property, provided certain conditions are met. One key condition is that a company must maintain an employee training program approved by the commonwealth.
Individuals or organizations seeking to offer continuing education courses for individuals to be licensed to operate hoisting machinery must submit an application to the Department of Public Safety. All courses must be monitored by a Massachusetts hoisting license holder and must offer a curriculum that, at a minimum, complies with detailed requirements for each class of hoisting machinery, as outlined in the proposed regulation.
The state regulations are in addition to any federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements that cover hoisting equipment. The rules also impact temporary permits that may be issued by a short-term rental entity for the operation of compact hoisting machinery.
If a company is not able to take advantage of the new exemption, then traditional licensing requirements will apply.
Employers need to pay attention to these new rules and carefully understand their applicability. Because state officials have rarely enforced the hoisting rules over the years, many companies will find themselves confronting the regulations for the first time. These companies may have no idea what the hoisting regulations are all about or why they may apply to their business.
You may comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
New figures from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics show that Massachusetts continues to show solid, unspectacular job growth.
The commonwealth added 9,100 jobs in October, 9,400 in September, and 6,000 in August. The September number is a preliminary estimate, while earlier months are revised. Release of the data was delayed by the federal government shutdown.
Since last October the Bay State has added 52,100 jobs, all in the private sector.
Among the industry sectors sharing in this growth are Education and Health Services (+17,300 on the year); Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (+11,400); Professional, Scientific and Business Services (+8,900); Information (+ 6,700, a 7.7 percent gain); and Construction (+6,300). The manufacturing sector shed 4,300 jobs.
The household survey, by contrast, finds 5,200 fewer Massachusetts residents employed and 15,600 more unemployed, which is why the unemployment rate is at 7.2 percent, up half a point from last October. I have not seen a plausible explanation of this persistent divergence, which makes the state of our economy hard to track.
Associated Industries of Massachusetts and 24 other Massachusetts business organizations joined together today to ask the commonwealth’s Congressional delegation to support waiving provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that could raise premiums for some small Bay State employers by more than 50 percent.
The groups, including 17 chambers of commerce and several statewide organizations representing thousands of employers, support a waiver from rating-factor limitations imposed by federal health reform for insurance offered to employers with 50 or fewer workers.
The ACA limits to four the rating factors used to calculate small group health insurance premiums, while current Massachusetts law allows for additional consideration of factors such as industry, participation rate, group size, intermediary discount and group purchasing cooperatives.
“Without this waiver, many small employers in this state will see their health insurance premiums increase by as much as 57 percent. These steep increases are simply unaffordable for small employers and risk our impressive 97 percent coverage rate in the event that employers discontinue providing health insurance to their employees,” the organizations maintain in their letter, delivered this afternoon to the Bay State delegation.
Governor Deval Patrick requested a rating-factor waiver on September 3, noting that “a waiver of rating factor requirements will avoid increases in health insurance premiums for a large segment of our small-employer population and their employees.” Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius denied the request on September 26.
The business groups argue that the federal government has already granted more than 1,200 ACA waivers and made numerous administrative modifications to the law. The most prominent of those modifications took place last week when President Barack Obama allowed individuals whose insurance had been cancelled to retain their policies for a year.
The minimum-wage increase steaming toward approval in the Massachusetts Senate this week is disappointing for many reasons.
There is, first of all, the argument on the merits. Increasing the minimum wage misses the real reason that many of our fellow citizens struggle to achieve an adequate standard of living - lack of appropriate training for the high-value jobs driving the state economy.
A market-based economy provides financial compensation to employees according to their ability to contribute to the success and profitability of the organization. That’s why AIM has for decades supported education reform, school-to-work initiatives, increased opportunities for training, community-college-based training initiatives, tax credits for training, and funding for the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund.
Increasing the minimum wage has the perverse effect of limiting opportunity for young and lower-skilled workers and pushing jobs out of the market. Far from helping poor people, the proposal to increase the minimum wage to $11 an hour by January 2016 and then index it to inflation will simply ensure that people whose skills do not justify that wage will not find jobs.
U.S. Census Bureau data shows that 90 percent of Massachusetts employees earning the minimum wage live with either their parents or another relative, they live alone or have a working spouse. Just 10 percent are sole wage earners in families with children. Why pass an across-the-board increase for all minimum-wage earners when our real intent is to help those who have families to support?
The more targeted approach to assist these families is through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a credit currently set at 15 percent of the amount of the federal credit in Massachusetts. These sole earners derive greater economic benefit from the combined state and federal EITC. Because the EITC does not have a correspondingly negative impact on job creation and business costs, AIM has supported this approach rather than simply raising the minimum wage, or here simply indexing the wage to CPI.
But the disappointment of employers with the current minimum wage bill extends beyond the issue itself to the broader question of Beacon Hill’s commitment to balancing the needs of workers with those of small employers struggling in an uncertain economy still afflicted with 7.2 percent unemployment.
AIM and its 5,000 member employers were encouraged in October when Legislative leaders indicated that they might link the minimum wage increase with an attempt to reform the commonwealth’s antiquated and expensive unemployment insurance system.
“In addition to the minimum wage, I think maybe we have to change some of the burdens that businesses presently face in Massachusetts,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo told the State House News Service on October 29.
Massachusetts UI costs, driven by high wages, lenient qualification requirements and an overly generous benefit structure, are the highest in the country. AIM has long supported changes to the system through which benefits are paid to unemployed workers. It is a system that has generated dizzying uncertainty for employers during the last five years as lawmakers have been forced to freeze automatic rate increases that were not needed to maintain the financial stability of the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.
The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development has, indeed, been gathering information about a possible Unemployment Insurance/Minimum Wage package. Employers would need to see the final contours of the package before determining whether to support it, but the business community generally believes that such a combined approach holds the most potential for helping the Massachusetts economy.
So employers – even those who have no workers earning the minimum wage – were shocked and disheartened to learn that the Senate will move forward on the wage measure without accompanying structural reforms to the unemployment insurance system. We now hope that the House of Representatives maintains its commitment to a balanced approach that will at long last address one of the most problematic and unnecessary cost issues facing Massachusetts employers.
AIM has a clear definition of substantive UI reform:
- Adjust the UI rate schedule to require negatively rated employers, those who habitually put employees into the UI system, to pay higher rates than more stable employers whose employees rarely use the UI system; and to require that new employers contribution rate be set at the so-called zero positive rate, more accurately reflecting the employers actual trust fund balance and avoiding "sticker shock" when receiving the actual bill after the first year of operation.
- Increase the work requirement for eligibility to collect UI benefits from 30 times the weekly benefit amount to forty and requiring wages to be paid in at least two quarters, bringing Massachusetts into line with the majority of other states; (estimated annual savings: $30 million.)
- Reduce the maximum duration of benefit weeks from 30 to 26 when the state's economy is performing well by adjusting the statutory trigger mechanism from 5.1 percent unemployment in each of the 10 local labor markets in the state to a straight 5.1 percent unemployment rate statewide over the preceding six months - producing savings in the UI Trust Fund of between $50 and $90 million per year. This provision would bring Massachusetts' benefits into line with all other states.
Editor's Note - Wendy Rosati is Consultant, Injury Prevention & Worksite Wellness, for A.I.M. Mutual Insurance Company in Burlington.
Manufacturers and other employers who use chemicals in the workplace have until December 1 to train employees about a significant revision by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to its hazard communication standard.
OSHA’s changes to the standard will align it with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The shift marks one of the agency’s most significant rulemaking efforts in more than a decade.
The rule, released on March 26, 2012, is expected to affect more than five million businesses across the country. An estimated 40 million employees will need to be re-trained on hazard communication.
The UN maintains that aligning U.S. hazard communication standards with those of the rest of the world will eliminate what has been a patchwork system and establish in its place a common process for identifying hazardous materials and warning users. Supporters say that adoption of the GHS classification system will streamline international shipments and sales of chemical products, ensure that people worldwide receive the same basic standards of protection when using products, facilitate training and literacy concerns, decrease supplier costs and improve overall workplace injury rates.
GHS has specific criteria for the classification of chemicals, including standardized language for health, physical and environmental categories and chemical mixtures. New labeling provisions include nine pictograms, which include a symbol and graphical elements, such as borders and background colors.
Eight of the nine pictograms will be regulated by OSHA. The signal words "DANGER" or “WARNING" will be required on labels, dependent on hazard severity. Labels will also require hazard and precautionary statements, which describe the chemical hazards and recommended measures to protect against exposures.
Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are now referred to as Safety Data Sheets (SDS) under the revised standard. Safety Data Sheets have 16 sections, and new requirements will include identification, hazard identification, composition and ingredient information, first aid and fire-fighting and accidental release measures, handling and storage, exposure controls, personal protection, physical and chemical properties, stability and reactivity, toxicological information, the date of preparation and last revision.
Every employer will be required to re-train their employees on the elements of the new standard. By December 1, affected employers are required to provide employees awareness training, which includes GHS formatting.
Chemical manufacturers and distributors assume significant workload under the new standard, and must gather relevant chemical data and review to determine hazards using GHS criteria, produce/author/re-author safety data sheets and labels in GHS format, and ensure that SDS and labels address specific standards of each country to which they ship by June 1, 2015.
By December 1, 2015, distributors must send only updated SDS and labels. By June 2016, employers must have compared old safety data sheets to new ones, noted any new hazards requiring new employee safety training, secured missing SDS sheets and archived older ones, updated written hazard communication programs, relabeled secondary containers using GHS format, and trained employees on new hazards.
AIM members with questions about the new standards may email Bob Paine (email@example.com), Senior Vice President of Membership.
Senator Elizabeth Warren challenged employers on Friday to initiate a “national conversation” that will overcome the Washington political gridlock she says threatens the economic and social structures of the nation.
Warren urged more than 250 business leaders at the AIM Executive Forum to contact their friends and colleagues across the country to discuss a path to compromise on the intractable stalemates over the federal budget and national debt.
“This has to be a national conversation. It cannot be a conversation just here in Massachusetts. We cannot sit around and just agree with each other,” Warren said.
“I urge you all hit to your email on regular basis and have this conversation, however you feel about it. But we’ve got to get this resolved and get our country moving forward.”
The commonwealth’s senior senator said fundamental philosophical differences between Democrats and Republicans are weighing down the economic recovery and preventing the country from making long-term investments in education, infrastructure and research.
“How stupid is the sequester? That we are now caught in an across-the-board hatchet cut to everything. It is just mindless,” she told the audience.
“And you all realize that if we can’t get this budget deal worked out we’re about to roll into a second year of sequester. That doesn’t mean second year of the same cuts, it means we double the cuts we’ve got and keep on rolling from there.”
Warren argued that the nation built a formidable economy out of the Great Depression with government investments in education and training, construction of the federal highway system and basic research that produced advances such as GPS and the Internet. The manufacturing base that grew out of those investments frayed during the latter half of the 20th century, she said, threatening the economic security of the middle class and challenging the nation to again think about the future of how it makes things.
She rejected the notion that manufacturing inevitably flows overseas.
“It’s the wrong way to think about our present. It’s also the wrong way to think about our future,” she said.
Addressing the employers, she said, “I truly believe that when you grow, America’s middle class grows, and when the middle class grows, America grows.”
Warren also maintained that community colleges must play a key role in ensuring that employers have access to the qualified workers they need to expand. The federal government must maintain funding of those community colleges while letting the institutions themselves determine the skills that employers in their regions need.
“What it takes to do almost any skilled work today is a lot more than it took 30 years ago. The idea that you could do things with a tenth-grade education as you did 30 or 40 years ago, those high paying manufacturing jobs, it’s just not true anymore,” she said.