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Gov. Brown’s Plan For Job Growth In San Diego

Aired 9/6/11 on KPBS Midday Edition.

California's governor is in town talking jobs. We take a look at his plan.

Unemployed

Above: Unemployed

California Governor Jerry Brown is in town to talk about his California Jobs First Plan, we take a look at his plan and discuss where there might be job growth in San Diego.

GUESTS

Phil Blair, Executive Officer for the San Diego office of Manpower Staffing Services

Katie Orr, KPBS Metro Reporter

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This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. It's Tuesday, September 6th. We're offer.

The top story on Midday Edition, California governor Jerry Brown tours a biotech firm in San Diego and discusses his California jobs first plan. The governor's visit comes as pressure is building for government policies to do something to address the state's and the nation's continuing high unemployment rates. President Obama is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress this Thursday. A new pole finds San Diego adding the second most jobs in the state this year. In addition to finding out about the governor's plan, we'll discuss where the jobs are and who is getting them. I'd like to welcome first KPBS metro reporter Katie Orr. Hi Katie.

ORR: Hi, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: You covered the governor's individual to San Diego this morning. What did he have to say in.

ORR: He was in San Diego at Gen Probe, a local biotech company that manufactures products for blood screening. And the governor is lobbying for his job plan that would include three elements which he outlined for the audience of Jen probe employees in the media.

NEW SPEAKER: It's pretty simple. There's three points. First, I propose that we extend and improve a tax credit for hiring employees in California. And that tax credit will be available until the end of 2013. The idea is hurry up and take advantage of it and hire in the face of this recession. Secondly, we take about a billion dollars and we use it to reduce taxes, to aid manufacturing, and small business. Number three, we eliminate toxic tax loophole. It's toxic because it rewards companies for creating jobs not in California but somewhere else.

ORR: What brown says this would do is change the tax structure, the corporate tax structure, in California, so that companies are taxed on the sales in California. Right now, they can choose between two tax formulas, and obviously the companies would choose the one that would tax them less. So he said this would eliminate that and go to this single system where you're taxed on your sales in the state.

CAVANAUGH: That's what he referred to as the toxic tax formula, is that it?

ORR: Right, he was saying the toxic loophole is that the tax code benefits companies that hire people outside of California. There's no incentive for them to hire people in California. He says this would change that.

CAVANAUGH: Now, the governor is pushing for the private sector to hire and manufacture in California. Is that the way he's doing it?

ORR: Right. So the other two elements of this is that he would extend a tax credit for small companies that hire now employees to try and spur hiring. It's for companies of first people or less. And then by closing what he calls the toxic tax loophole and changing the tax structure that would generate another billion dollars for the state. He wants to take that billion dollars and put it toward a tax credit for companies that buy manufacturing equipment within the statement. A sales tax credit. And this is a little bit of a switch. He had proposed this earliy. But he wanted that billion dollars to go toward closing the state's deficit. Now it goes towards these tax credits, which some people see as a nod to Republicans, hoping that they will get on board with the plan.

CAVANAUGH: Well, let me ask you about the politics of this issue. It's not like the governor actually unveiled this program today. This is something that he's been trying to push through the legislature for a while, right?

ORR: Well, he unveiled the specifics of it a few days ago. And the timing is pretty tight because the legislative session ends this week. What he needs, he needs two Republicans in the assembly and two Republicans in the Senate to vote for this. It's not sure that that's going to happen. He says that there are some talks going on. He acknowledges that the plan would be -- likely have to be tweaked to make those Republicans happy. But he wouldn't go into the specifics today at this news conference about what these tweaks might be. And how this might change. But again, it's a really tight deadline, and it's not at all certain it's going to pass before the legislative session ends.

CAVANAUGH: That's KPBS metro reporter Katie Orr, and thank you Katie.

ORR: Thank you.

CAVANAUGH: Joining us now is Phil blare, executive officer for the San Diego office of manpower staffing services. Hi Phil.

BLAIR: Good morning, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: Now, let me first off get your reaction to what you heard from Katie. What do you think about this tax incentive idea? ?

BLAIR: Well, employers hire when they have a need for employees. Tax c thes are a wonderful thing if they're right on the cusp of starting to like, look like they're going to need it. The thing I don't see in the governor's plan is something to stimulate the company. Infrastructure is an example. And I think we're going to see the president mention infrastructure shovel ready projects this week probably. But I question tax credits if you're not already thinking of hiring someone because it's not enough. I have this employee, when the tax credit ends. In the billion dollars is for small businesses, I tell you, I think first and smaller is too small. I would suggest 200 and first and smaller. I think that's too much of a niche. And my example in my first example about needing to hire people, especially small businesses don't have they leeway of sort of moving it ahead six months if they were not going to. So we've got to start getting people to work. We know that it's consumer spending that stimulates our economy. And I don't know that this encourages consumer spending confidence.

CAVANAUGH: Phil, how hard is it to find a job in San Diego right now?

BLAIR: It is very hard. It is -- my heart goes out to anyone who is looking for work. In this job market. And an interview I did last week with 6,000 engineering openings, first of all, I question the 6,000 number. But those are needle in a haystack kind of jobs. Those are very highly skilled technical jobs, people have been going to school for a long time to learn those skills, and they're always in short demand. But our growth is in that area, telecommunications and bio net, but the high education expectations. And the other area is the entry level, tourism, entry level manufacturing, the really 9, 10, 11, $12 an hour jobs. But the middle class, what this country was really built on is where my heart really goes out to because that is a very tough area. Those people have to reinvent themselves because their jobs have not gone away because of the recession. They have gone away, period. Never to return.

CAVANAUGH: We had a report, we were talking about a new report on jobs in California yesterday. And we heard specifically in San Diego that tourism and biotech and healthcare, hiring at private universities, was pretty -- was up a little bit in San Diego. And this was a slight boost in construction. Is that what you're finding?

BLAIR: It is, but when you add the caveat up a lot bit, it's very little. I mean, we have to, in our country, have 200 and first thousand jobs a month to start working our way out of this recession. And it will take several years at that rate. If you recall, in the month of August, we had 17,000 private sector jobs developed. And we had government, of all levels, lose 17,000 jobs. We had a wash. And we were expecting 80, 90, 100,000 new jobs. So that was a heart break.

CAVANAUGH: Now, you say that people in the middle class especially have to reinvent themselves. I want to find out exactly what you mean by that. Do you mean that people have to look -- go back to school to upgrade their skills? What do they have to do?

BLAIR: Well, I tell people, and I just did a seminar right before this program, people need to sit down and take a list of what their skills are. What do they bring to the table? What are they good at? Forget what they did before. But how do they take the experience from their previous work or job or career and and adapt that to a new model? Then they look at where technology is going, where careers in San Diego are going. And then they have to merge those two together and find out where to use those skills. In many cases it may involve going back to school. Entry level healthcare, for example, we keep talking that healthcare is growing. It is. And that is an area where entry level jobs are starting as nurse's aides. These are 9, 10, $11 an hour jobs. And you're not going to work your way out of that job short of 5% or three% job raises each year unless you go back to school at night or on the weekends or extension courses or online courses, which says I have a family, via full time job that's paying much lower than I did before, and now you want me to go to school of course Phil? And I'm saying, yes. That's what you're going to have to do.

CAVANAUGH: And I also think of the people who are employed but are employed in the kind of job that you're talking about, where they're not going to get anywhere, and they're afraid to leave that job now because there doesn't seem to be anywhere to go.

BLAIR: If you're working now, do not abandon that job. Find how you can grow within that industry, within that company, sit down with your boss and say what do I need to bring to the table to get a promotion? If I want a career path, not just a job, at this hospital, what do you need to do? And the supervisor will have 3, 4, 5 things. It might be you need to have a certificate in this area, you need to have experience on the third shift, which is the most unpopular shift, but boy, do you get lots of kudo points with me. You need to do these thing, and then you have to be willing to do those things. But the motivating thing is you now know what you need to do. And it's your choice to do them or not. And for a year or two, it may be uncolorful. You may be on a shift that's not ideal for your lifestyle or your family. But you have to do things. And that feels good. At least there's something I can do.

CAVANAUGH: Now, we hear that college students say it's hard it find a job because those with experience are getting hired. But older workers complain you just said there are entry level positions opening up, but they don't want an entry level position because they have too many credentials. Which side of that is right?

BLAIR: It's always interesting. In every presentation I make, I get college students that say I'm not getting the jobs because there's people with 10, 15 years experience, and employers want to hire them. Then the next hand goes up Pand it says I'm 40, 45 years old, these college kids are coming out of school, and they're getting the jobs. And people are seeing me as stale and irrelevant anymore. And I always chuckle and I go, I want you two to get-together, because the reality is, nobody is getting the jobs. But this is what both of you need to do to find out what your strengths are and sell to your strengths. And present yourself in that way so that HR people like me are impressed with you, not hearing whining.

CAVANAUGH: Right. Well, I guess I'm very interested in hearing what you are hoping to hear from President Obama when he makes his jobs policy speech on Thursday.

BLAIR: If I could wave a wand, remember the old phrase when the money came out and it was shovel ready projects? That's what I would do. I would -- highway construction, bridge, schools. In San Diego, it's expansion of the Convention Center, it's a new City Hall. We need a new City Hall. It's not a Taj Mahal. It's an awful building, and even if bee just break even on it and put 2,000 people to work like the airport expansion, that is a real positive. And that's not busy work. That's not just how do I get cash out into people's pockets. It's an infrastructure that will be here in first and 75 years. So I'm okay with people in first years helping to pay for that bridge that they're riding over right now. It doesn't need to be cash. It could be bonds. And it could be paid off over 20 or 30 years because that's the life of the structure. That snowball effect is what affects employment. Because those construction workers are now buying a new refrigerator or going out to dinner, and that money starts flowing. Any time somebody work, there's a 4 to 7 job trailing that creates another or more jobs.

CAVANAUGH: That's the big picture. When you wring it down to the small picture, and I know you deal with so many people who are looking for working what's the biggest mistake people make what they're trying to find a job?

BLAIR: They don't understand their skills, and their assets and how it applies to the new job market, number one. Number two, they don't present themselves well. They sit down with an employer and it's -- here's what I'm looking for. Let me tell you, from HR's point of view, I don't care what you're looking for. This is what the job is. Sell me why you're the right person because I've interviewed 15 people, and why should I hire you? And you've got to be able to communicate that. You've got to have -- it's all rat tude. Still, even in this job market, I hire to attitude, I teach skills. And if you're sitting there -- and people have to watch themselves and pay attention, if you're sitting there in an interview going subconsciously saying let's get this over with, you're not going to hire me. Nobody's hired me, I've interviewed ten times upon just get on it over with, that's the message you're giving people like me. And instead, you've got to give me the message I'm the best thing that's ever happened to this company, and I'm going to increase your sales 20% or your net profit 20% or save you 20% in expenses. Now you've got my attention as a business owner.

CAVANAUGH: I have been speaking with Phil blare of manpower incorporated. Thank you so much for coming in and speaking with us today.

BLAIR: Oh, you're welcome.

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