Counties Play Central Role in Economic Recovery

A recent National Association of Counties (NACo) article indicates that while the national unemployment rate hovers around 9.6 percent, counties are playing a central  role in economic recovery and growth.

“The local governments are key in this recovery, and what they have to do is create jobs. It’s everybody’s job right now,” said Jane Oates, assistant secretary, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor. “And local governments, even in these tough budget times are uniquely positioned to talk to businesses.”

Those conversations have been ongoing in counties with strong workforce and economic development programs. In many cases, they have for years been engaged in talks — and actions — to help businesses to meet their staffing needs, a key to combating unemployment. Such efforts won’t lower counties’ jobless rates overnight. But, successful job-creation programs leave counties better positioned to rebound from the recession.

Experts say those localities that take a regional approach to skill building and job creation improve their chances of success. There’s a growing body of evidence that places innovation at the heart of U.S. economic growth, and the best place to do that is at the regional level, according to the report Building Regional Partnerships for Economic Growth and Opportunity, issued by Jobs for the Future.The regional level is “where firms, economic development organizations, investors, education and training providers, research institutions and government can collaborate most effectively…,” the report said. Such collaboration can take many forms, including helping companies develop new products and processes, and training workers with needed skills.

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