CA leads nation in job creation — Should CalChamber ‘job killer’ list receive credit?


refinery, California, UC DavisWhile surveys of business executives still rank California as one of the worst places to do business, the record on job creation has been bright in the Golden State over the last year.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported California led the nation over a 12-month period ending Jan. 31, creating 498,000 jobs. Part of the credit for this, according to the California Chamber of Commerce, is the Chamber’s annual effort to rally against bills that would hinder job creation and hurt the economy.

The effort is called the “job killer” campaign. It alerts legislators, the governor and citizens about bills that increase taxes and regulation on businesses, hindering jobs creation.

For example, from the current list, Assembly Bill 357 is by Assemblyman David Chiu of San Francisco. According to the bill, it’s needed because, “Unpredictable scheduling practices and last-minute work schedule changes cause workers who are already struggling with low wages to live in a constant state of insecurity about when they will work or how much they will earn on any given day.”

But according to the Chamber, among other things, AB357 “imposes an unfair, one-size fits all, two-week notice scheduling mandate on any entity that performs retail sales activity, and penalizes the employer with ‘additional pay’ for making changes to the schedule with less than two weeks notice.”

It is worth considering how the positive job creation news would have fared without the CalChamber’s annual job-killer campaign. Over the past four years, the Chamber marked 129 bills as job killers. Only 8 of these measures have been signed into law. If many of the defeated bills passed, would California’s job-creation number be so strong?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, California created 100,000 more jobs than the runner-up job creator, Texas, to which California is often compared as an economic rival. However, as Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters pointed out, the job gain in Texas was a 3.5 percent increase. In more populous California, the job increase represents a 3.2 percent gain. “A tie,” Walters declared.

High unemployment

California’s unemployment at 6.7 percent is still one of the highest in the nation. The national rate is 5.5 percent. More jobs are needed to help get many Californians out of poverty, with California leading the nation in that category.

Job creation in California has been uneven. Twenty counties still have double-digit unemployment, while the hot job creation Bay Area counties have unemployment as low as 4 percent.

The Chamber’s goal is to keep business costs low to improve the economy statewide.

“Jobs in California’s high tech and health care sectors and along the coast are fueling our economy and this is good news, however, when one third of Californians are on Medi-Cal we need to enhance our efforts to improve the overall job picture,” said California Chamber of Commerce president Allan Zaremberg.

Critics contend the bills are needed to help the work environment. Steve Smith, a spokesman for the California Labor Federation, charged of CalChamber’s 2014 list, “By placing measures to give workers earned sick days and combat wage theft on their hit list, the Chamber, once again, has shown how tone-deaf it is to the needs of most California families.”

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