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Weekly Column: Economy Not Out of the Ditch


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With much anticipation, the Department of Labor released the latest job numbers on Friday and the numbers proved grim. Unemployment rates remained high, creeping up to 9.2 percent nationwide. Thankfully, here in South Dakota our jobless rates have not reached the national highs but still our local economy remains sluggish in many sectors.

Many folks are asking, "Where are the jobs?"

These new unemployment numbers punctuate the continued lack of focus on policies that will actually spur job creation and economic growth by too many in Washington, DC. Rather than focus on a job creation agenda that encourages entrepreneurship, increases access to American-made energy and makes our government live within its means, some are floating plans to raise taxes. Others continue to think that new government spending will somehow jumpstart our economy even after the first trillion-dollar stimulus package failed to live up to its advanced billing. Even President Obama himself joked recently about exactly how many stimulus projects weren't as "shovel ready" as originally claimed.

As a former small business owner myself, I understand the difficulties in maintaining a business let alone expanding one. That's why Washington must abandon the path of more heavy-handed government regulations, misguided, wasteful spending and higher taxes. Instead, we need to focus on the needs of small business owners because they create the lion's share of new jobs both in South Dakota and nationally.

Before a small business makes the decision to hire another employee they need to see several things in the economic climate going forward. First and foremost, job creators need to know that the tax and regulatory environment won't change for the worse. The looming threat of a tax hike or burdensome new regulation might be enough to stop a small business owner from hiring that new employee. Additionally, small business employers need to know that the government is working to implement policies that are growth-oriented. That means we should focus on enacting trade agreements to open markets and level the playing field with overseas competitors. It also means we should be implementing policies that encourage American-made energy to keep the cost of gasoline and other fuels down.

So, "Where are the jobs?" We'll be able to answer that question after policies that hurt small businesses are abandoned and we instead focus on policies that make it easier for entrepreneurs to turn their idea into a small business and encourage others to expand.

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