The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 15, 2013

Progress disrupted: Job losses further complicate region’s growth

Bill Findley
For The Tribune-Democrat

— As the economic recovery appears to be getting under way locally, albeit at a comparatively slow pace, a series of announcements about impending staff reductions, plant relocations and job transfers have disrupted progress across several segments of the local economy.

This means that even as the economy strengthens, these latest developments, including the shuttering of NDIC, will continue impacting several key industry sectors across the area.

For now, these would  include state and federal government, manufacturing and the insurance industry.

A quick summation of the combined projected job losses within this group indicates that a significant number of jobs will be affected. Ironically,  two of the three industries impacted  (government and manufacturing), are currently ranked among the top five industries in this labor market.

These developments come at a time when additional jobs are needed as the area is striving to restore jobs to prerecession levels. It will be no easy task as the Great Recession cost the local economy approximately 1,500 jobs  across a broad spectrum of industries. Progress moving forward has been slow, as evidenced by less than encouraging job and unemployment trends.

The comparatively high unemployment numbers that remain in excess of 8.0 percent have shown few signs of easing.

In addition, while the number of long-term unemployed has reportedly declined,  many workers continue to struggle to find work, and have become discouraged and stopped looking altogether.

The change in the number of jobs in the area has shown no signs of consistent progress, making little headway since the recession was declared over.

Several of the harder-hit industries remain in the doldrums and have added very few jobs.

While steps continue to be taken to improve current labor market conditions, we cannot expect another round of significant job losses not to have long- term, challenging consequences to include damage to individual’s economic situations and  more broadly, the local economy.   

There can be no doubt that recessions and significant job losses as the result of staff reductions, job transfers and relocations lead to reduced economic opportunity for individuals and families and the broader economy. These may include falling incomes, reduced labor force attachment, career changes and workers becoming less employable as the result of remaining outside the workforce for an extended period of time.

From the perspective of the broader economy, we must continue to move forward.

Linda Thomson, president of Johnstown Area Regional Industries, states that a key focus of JARI is  getting workers re-employed and retaining our skilled workforce.

“We are all about jobs, keeping workers here and getting them rehired. We are asking people who have job openings to please contact JARI.”

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