Lardaro on the Downswing
University of Rhode Island Economist Len Lardaro has to be the most mixed-message-sending economist in the state. He regularly appears in the local media declaring that his economic index shows Rhode Island in recovery (and has been doing so for months of the recession), yet here he comes with a doomsday warning for the next election:
On the labor-supply side, much of the current unemployment is long-term in nature, the result of jobless persons failing to possess the skills demanded by the employers who are attempting to increase employment. Economists refer to this as “structural unemployment.” The result is skill shortages, even with so high a jobless rate.
On the demand side, employers have continued to find ways of meeting current product demand with fewer hours worked by their labor force than they thought possible in the past. …
The upcoming election is more important than is generally assumed for Rhode Island, because federal bailout money will no longer be available by this time next year. Fiscally, this will force us to go “cold turkey.” The resulting jolt to a fragile upturn may well force our state into a double-dip recession. The citizens of this state need to be proactive, even though our elected officials seldom are.
Don’t get me wrong: I agree with Lardaro’s assessment and his hinted solutions, but he would help to prime the public for this sort of revelation if he regularly accompanied his index-related press releases with a big “but.”