Business leader asks lawmakers to stimulate economic growth

February 16, 2010

By Staff

A state business leader said the economic recovery is fragile, and said lawmakers in Olympia must find ways to bolster the recovery. Association of Washington Business President Don Brunell delivered the remarks to the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce at a Jan. 21 luncheon.The statewide organization is the largest business association in Washington, with more than 6,800 members.

“We are disheartened by the latest unemployment numbers released by the state yesterday showing the jobless rate rose to 9.5 percent in December,” Brunell said. “What worries us even more is we believe that rate is low because more people have exhausted their benefits or given up searching for employment.”

The state unemployment rate climbed to 9.5 percent in December — the highest rate since 1984 — state Employment Security Department figures released last week show.

“That means one out of 10 working-age adults is not working and that is staggering,” Brunell said.

The high unemployment rate impacted employers as well, he added.

“Some business owners have seen their rates soar by 1,000 percent because of the sour economy,” he said. “What would be extremely harmful now is for the Legislature to increase costs by expanding eligibility for unemployment benefits. Lawmakers and Gov. Gregoire must resist attempts by unions to push that legislation through in Olympia.”

Brunell said employers already received tax increases in 2010 because unemployment and workers’ compensation rates increased Jan. 1.

“We know the recovery is going to be slow, and that state and local governments are pinched for funding,” Brunell said. “The best way to deal with this pain is to grow the private, job-producing, tax-paying sector. Just as an incoming tide floats boats stuck in the mud, so, too, does a growing private sector increase jobs, investments, consumer spending and tax collections.”

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