Press Release from the Democratic Party of Tennessee, Sept. 9, 2011:
1-in-10 hunting for jobs—Republican lawmaker says Tennessee ‘too easy’ on job seekers
NASHVILLE — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester called out Republican lawmakers Thursday for being “out of touch with reality” on growing the state economy and assisting Tennessee’s 300,000 job seekers.
“We don’t have a shortage of work ethic in Tennessee, we have a shortage of work. We have roads and bridges to fix, safe energy to harness, and schools to rebuild,” Forrester said. “Instead of playing politics and mocking people who have lost their jobs by no fault of their own, Republicans should want to work with Democrats in finding ways to make Tennessee work again for Tennesseans.”
In August, Wacker Chemie, a Germany-based company that former Gov. Phil Bredesen recruited to set up in Bradley County, reportedly accepted 10,000 applications for 130 positions.
Forrester’s statement comes after a comment made Thursday by Republican state Rep. Jimmy Matlock. Matlock said Tennessee’s 306,000 job seekers weren’t actually looking for work because they have no incentive to find a job.
“We’re making it too easy,” Matlock said in reference to the extension of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.
In Tennessee, the maximum unemployment insurance benefit is $1,100 a month or less. That’s at the poverty line.
“The truth is Tennesseans want to work, and Democrats won’t rest until every Tennessean who wants to work has a job,” Forrester said. “Irresponsible comments like the one from Mr. Matlock just reaffirm how out of touch with reality Republicans have become.”
On Wednesday Democratic members of the state House and Senate announced a six-day jobs tour across the state Sept. 19-24 to talk to business owners, local officials and the public about how to best grow jobs in Tennessee.
Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris accused his Democratic colleagues of using the tour for politics.
“That’s a rich accusation coming from Sen. Norris considering his party killed a dozen Democratic jobs bills this year and did absolutely nothing on their own to grow the economy,” Forrester said. “Sen. Norris and Gov. Bill Haslam are obviously waiting for Santa to leave jobs under the tree this Christmas.
“Republicans continue to sit on their hands and call it leadership,” Forrester said. “It’s past time Republicans stopped complaining about the government, and started focusing on running it well.”
FACTS: Plenty of work ethic, not enough work
- In Bradley County, Wacker Chemie has received 10,000 applications and made 130 hires. [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 8/17/11]
- In Knox County, 700 students attend a jobs fair at UT Knoxville [Daily Beacon, 8/26/11]
- In Robertson County, 400 people turned out for a job fair [NewsChannel5.com, 8/17/11]
- In Hamilton County, Amazon.com received 4,300 applications in two days. [Memphis Business Journal, 5/18/11]
- In Rutherford County, 800 people apply for teaching positions. [Daily News Journal, 5/15/11]
- In Knox County, Jobs News’ drew more than 1,400 job seekers. [WVLT, 5/4/11]
- In Tullahoma, 60 people applied for 10 jobs — at McDonalds. [Tullahoma News & Guardian, 4/28/11]
- In Montgomery County, “thousands of people” attend a two-day job fair in Clarksville. [The Leaf-Chronicle, 4/28/11]
- In Shelby County, more than 20,000 job-seekers applied over 14 days to work at a brewery that plans to hire 500 workers over the next five years. [The Memphis Commercial Appeal, 4/13/11]
Tennessee’s unemployment rate is 9.8%
That’s higher than the national average. 306,200 Tennesseans are still looking for jobs. [BLS.gov, 9/8/11]
RHETORIC: Tennessee Republicans eager to abandon and mock people who’ve lost their jobs.
Rep. Jimmy Matlock: “We’re making it too easy.” [Memphis Commercial Appeal, 9/8/11]
Rep. Glen Casada: “I would contend the answer to that is it’s up to individuals to help their family and their friends and neighbors who don’t have a job.” [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 5/20/11]
Rep. Tim Wirgau: “We got people who can’t find jobs, but we got more people who don’t look for jobs because we keep handing them money.” [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 5/20/11]