Saturday, January 29, 2011

Just how bad is it?

So just how serious is unemployment?
For those without a job, it’s darned distressing. For those who have jobs, it’s a matter of thankfulness and hope they don’t become a tick on the unemployment rate. But what’s the economic impact?
As reported by the Texas Workforce Commission this month, there are 1,133 people in Palo Pinto County who are unemployed. In addition, the workforce has declined, people moving away to find work elsewhere.
Just for the unemployed, figured at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, the loss in income adds up quickly. How about $8,214.25 per hour? How about $65,714 per day? How about $328,570 per week?
That’s the wages that go unpaid, only marginally offset by unemployment payments. From that would come federal income and other taxes, with the balance being spent locally, money that would be used for necessities — food, gasoline, utilities and even sales tax. And that is only one county among 254 and one state among 50.
While Texas focuses on the increase in jobs, the lower unemployment rate compared to the nation and the better economy in Texas — all true — the reality is this county and probably many others are seeing the very real effects of fewer jobs.
What’s the answer?
We wish we knew — and even if we did, who would listen? Congress can take steps to ease the tax burdens on employers, eliminate the stone that hangs over the heads of small companies by rescinding the health-care overhaul that will hurt employers and others and ease cumbersome and worrisome regulations.
The state can balance its budget, but it should not be at the expense of taxpayers who will be required to pay higher fees and higher local taxes to fund mandates from the state Legislature. Gov. Rick Perry has stated he wants a balanced budget with no new taxes, but the last time that happened legislators pushed requirements on counties and cities that required tax increases there.
Perry can say the state didn’t raise taxes, but the reality was more taxes were required to pay the bills locally.
While lower taxes are wonderful and beneficial, the reality is services will have to be cut. It is already happening with the Texas Department of Transportation as roadside parks are being closed unless county governments or other entities agree to maintain those facilities. More cuts are likely to occur, not just there but with other agencies as well.
It would seem reasonable to assume lost wages because of unemployment play a large part of these shortfalls.

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