By Michael Gaffney
Whenever you want to find out news that news organizations don’t really want to print, but have to, look to your Saturday papers. Last Saturday was no exception, in an article published in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette by Lisa Eckelbecker titled Worcester Economic Index: 4,600 jobs lost in year, we were advised that “jobs are down in the Worcester region, even as state and national data show a surge of economic growth.”
The Worcester region lost 4,600 jobs last year while the state and the nation are booming.
Keep in mind that the data is for the Worcester region, which includes towns surrounding Worcester and into Connecticut. However, keep in mind that in general this is the data set that is used for analyzing the Worcester market. In other words, the same people that will say the data isn’t just Worcester because they don’t like the results will use the same data when they do like the results.
Unfortunately, the use of regional data is actually WORSE for Worcester. Just a year ago, I advised (see: The more things change, the more they stay the same) –
“Allegro Microsystems and Primetals Technologies announced they are both leaving the city taking with them tax revenues, business revenues from companies serving them and their employees, and approximately 665 jobs. Allegro is moving to Marlborough while Primetals is moving to Sutton. Both are moving due to the high tax rates in Worcester and better facilities.”
Not only did the region lose 4,600 jobs, but Worcester lost jobs to the region that lost jobs as local employers moved out of Worcester to surrounding towns.
Hanover Insurance also laid off another 250+ or so employees last year as well. It is clear that the majority of jobs lost in the region were from Worcester.
I had also advised –
“According to MSN.com, the Worcester metro ranks 20th out of cities hit the hardest by extreme poverty. Since 2010, the share of the poor population living in neighborhoods where at least 40% of the population live below the poverty line INCREASED by 3.6 percentage points to 12%. The number of Worcester neighborhoods in which at least 40% of the population are poor doubled from four to eight.”
According to Eckelbecker’s article, while the state’s economy grew at 4.6 percent during the first quarter and the nation’s economy grew at 3.2 percent, Worcester’s grew less than one-tenth of a percent.
There is no sugar-coating to make the truth-pill taste better. Worcester’s elected leaders and City Manager have utterly failed to get Worcester moving in the middle of an economic boom that has the lowest unemployment since 1969 and economic growth rates that have slaughtered the expert’s predictions.
One-tenth of a percent growth? Worcester’s economy sucks.
As I said last year (and at every budget that I tried to cut) the only new idea out of city hall is a new way to tax –
“Worcester is on the move not just to increase taxes, but to look for new ways to tax. Just review the Mayor’s Tax Committee Report as it seeks to increase property taxes, gas taxes, retail taxes, etc. Right now, the City is pushing the proposal of a Community Preservation Act and are holding meetings that the majority of the residents of the City are unaware. The idea stems from the City Mayor’s tax plan wherein the City shall impose an ADDITIONAL 3% tax increase on properties above and beyond the usual 2.5% to support ‘open spaces’, ‘historic preservation’, ‘outdoor recreation’, and ‘affordable housing.’”
I wasn’t completely right as I didn’t foresee your elected leaders and the City Manager pushing the latest tax increase to fix streets and sidewalks. In sum, they spent all the tax money on everything else, but not the basic services the tax money is supposed to be used for.
Any effort to point out that the city is spending more, taxing more, and driving out businesses is just “saying bad things about Worcester” or being a “naysayer”. Instead Worcester residents are fed a steady diet of “news” about the stadium they outbid Rhode Island by $40 million to get and the latest new restaurant to move into an old restaurants’ space.
Keep in mind, one doesn’t love Worcester any less than another simply because one measures success by reality as opposed to feelings.
Losing thousands of jobs and one-tenth of a percent growth in this economy is almost impossible, but somehow Worcester’s leadership did it. Their level of incompetence is impressive.
Prior to his review, your elected leaders extended the City Manager’s contract and gave him a raise! What data were they using? Truth is, none. All based on feelings and emotions.
Worcester isn’t experiencing a renaissance, it is losing thousands of jobs with one-tenth of a percent growth.
Anyone that claims there is a renaissance is either an idiot or part of the crew running the city – actually, they are one and the same.