The veteran California journalist Daniel Weintraub and the California Manufacturers & Technology Assn. vice president Gino DiCaro have been having an on-line argument over the California jobs situation.
The argument was touched off by Weintraub's piece describing how the state's jobs situation -- when one discounts job losses in government and construction -- is much better than commonly known. California job growth, excluding those sectors, has exceeded that in the rest of the country.
DiCaro countered that the piece was just so much happy talk -- and ignored statistics, pariticularly in manufacturing, that suggest the state's job growth in the future would be weaker than in other states.
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Weintraub countered that argument with a number of facts and reports showing that many claims about job losses in California are bogus or overblown. And DiCaro has countered -- not so much by disputing Weintraub but by saying that such reports, with their emphasis on the positive, prevent the state from doing the kind of aggressive strategizing it needs to do to build job growth.
I find both convincing. Weintraub is right on the facts. But DiCaro is right in saying that policymakers in California can't rest on good news and need to behave with far more urgency and focus than they have. The history of California job growth is commonly portrayed as a tale of good fortune and sunshine. In fact, that history is one of state and local government and business leaders working together to grab all the industries and jobs they can (and sometimes in morally objectionable but effective ways). Whatever the facts, there's no substitute for that kind of plotting. And for all the good news Weintraub mentions, the state shouldn't be complacent..