Yesterday, I wrote a post about how the blog attributed to Mayor Slay claimed that investment in the city is up 54%, and I pointed out that it used a measure of investment (building permits) that simply does not show the entire picture. In my post, I asked: "Slay, where are the jobs?"
Today's post in the Slay blog is entitled "Growing Jobs." It talks about business incubators in the city, and businesses they have churned out.
Business incubators are certainly important. It is wonderful that someone is out there trying to help independent businesses get on their feet.
Still, I don't think it answers my question. The programs discussed in the post are great, but when our city has 9.1% unemployment, they are only one little drop in a big bucket.
Then again, the current city administration's idea of creating jobs seems to be eminent domaining people out of their homes to build yet another big box store. It temporarily creates some demo and construction jobs, but all that the city gets in the long term is a couple dozen $6 and $7 an hour part-time jobs where people are forced to stand on their feet on a hard floor all day long. Oh, there's also eminent domaining people out of their homes to build newer, cheaper, uglier homes, but that doesn't even create long-term $6 an hour jobs. We lose the refined, exceptionally crafted architectural fabric that makes our city stand out among other American cities, and we're left with little but a vast parking lot and jobs that by definition require people to get public assistance to survive.
We're starting to get people moving back in to the city right now, and perhaps more importantly, people are excited about the city again. But people won't stay in a place where they can't meet their basic needs. If you can't get a job, you can't feed yourself, and if you start to starve, the survival instinct's gonna kick in sooner or later.
This administration needs to get more proactive about creating good jobs--the kind of jobs that pay a living wage, the kind of jobs that people can keep, the kind of jobs that don't force people on to public assistance because they pay so little. So far, Slay's record shows that he seems to think that tearing down a historic building = a job. It does not. (In a debate earlier this year, Irene Smith asked Mayor Slay what his economic development plan for the North Side is. He responded by saying that his administration had torn down thousands of buildings on the North Side. That was all he could come up with.) And opening a big box store that pays $7 an hour is not really creating a job, either (I can show you my paychecks and the bills they're somehow supposed to pay to personally show you what a $7.50 an hour job is worth.). Where are the good, sustainable jobs?
The current city administration needs to get serious about creating actual decent jobs in St. Louis, and it must stop pretending that knocking down historic buildings is the same thing as creating sustainable jobs. The Slay administration must start seriously trying to improve the St. Louis Public Schools for the thousands of (mostly black) children who rely on them (A $7 an hour job don't pay for private school, that's for sure!), so that our city's children actually have some of the skills they need to get, keep, and create jobs in the city. Jobs and schools are two intertwined problems, and they are two of the most important problems that the city of St. Louis must face if it wants a positive future. In response to these problems, the Slay administration has shown only that they are very, very good at sitting on their hands.