DENNIS SEID: Putting people to work is priority

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

I want a job that pays $200,000 a year, offers free health care, six weeks of vacation, free child care and a company car.
Hey, if you’re going to dream, dream big.
But since I don’t have that dream job, I’m just happy to have a job right now. Many people aren’t as fortunate. However, the good news is that about 90 percent of us are employed. It’s the other 10 percent that need help.
So anytime you can get a business or industry to add or create jobs, it’s good news.
You would think that with double-digit unemployment, any jobs would be welcome. But for some people, they’re not.
Some believe that we are doomed to failure unless we recruit high-skill, high-paying jobs. Without them, we’ll be stuck in a perpetual cycle of poverty, obesity, immorality and a host of other ills that keep us down.
Those low-skill, low-paying jobs attract people we don’t want and bring down a community, the argument goes.
For example, recently a McDonald’s hired 90 people for a new restaurant. For detractors, it’s another 90 dead-end, subservient jobs that contribute little to the community.
Then there’s Toyota, which said it has more than 800 people working in Blue Springs. But for some, it means we’re setting the stage for a Detroit-like meltdown.
Sound ludicrous? Unfortunately, some think that way.
The fact is, not every city, town and village in America will be blessed with an Apple, Google or Microsoft. Yes, those are high-skill, high-paying jobs anybody would love to have. But there aren’t, and won’t be, enough of those jobs to go around.
Manufacturing has been the driver of the Northeast Mississippi economy for decades, with the furniture industry leading the way.
But as the global economy continues to evolve, so must the region’s economy.
Advanced manufacturing is one avenue, but advanced manufacturing also means heavy use of high tech – which in turn replaces some human labor. There are things robots can do that we can’t. You get higher paying jobs, but fewer of them, too.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t recruit advanced manufacturers. The more diversified the economy, the better.
Look around Northeast Mississippi – we have companies that produce furniture, tires, ammunition, armored vehicles, candles, software, food, lighting, window coverings, bedding and more. The list goes on and grows. In a few months, we can add cars to it.
And we have people working in retail stores and restaurants. We even have a few farmers, if you haven’t noticed.
To say that we don’t want or don’t need jobs that don’t pay “well” is an argument with little merit.
We need every job we can get, regardless of what it pays. Better something than nothing.
In times of economic distress, everybody wants to get paid more. Even when times are good, people want to get paid more.
But we shouldn’t look down on any job that helps put food on your table, clothes on your back and a roof over your head.

Dennis Seid is the Daily Journal’s business editor. Contact him at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@journalinc.com.