Aug 31 2011
01:26 pm

Remember a few weeks ago when it was reported that Gov. Haslam wrote the forward to a children's book extolling the virtues of the service industry? Well, here's a head's up for Haslam, and Sietel (the company that authored the book), had a the list of 10 states with the worst economies gone to 11 states, TN would be on the list, specifically for being wrought with low-paying service-industry jobs.


A little background (emphasis mine):

Others like Mississippi, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama are cheap-labor “right to work” states. These are the economies that were devastated during the Civil War, came back only after the United States began mobilizing for WWII and have never truly caught up with the rest the country. With some of the lowest average net worths in the country and large service sectors that rely heavily on consumer spending, they were less able to weather the economic storm. Rounding out their pain is a severe drought, which has devastated agricultural outputs.

the list of 10 states is pretty interesting, as are the reasons why these states made the list. And, once we get through the 10th state, we come to TN.

In this economic climate, deciding which 10 states to highlight wasn't easy. Three states almost made the cut. Tennessee, with median net worths over a fifth below the national average and a poverty rate over 15 percent, would have made it if we'd done the 11 worst state economies. But it has a relatively low foreclosure rate – about half the national average – unemployment under 10 percent, and with a low cost of living, it's easier to scrape by on low incomes than it would be in many states.

I can tell you that low-incomes don't pay the bills, nor afford folks the ability to buy a home.

So, here's the $64K question. Is being laden with service-industry jobs really good for TN's overall economic health? If not, why then does our governor think the service-industry should be touted to our children? (and this question is not about the golden rule -- treating others as you would like to be treated)

rikki's picture

Service industry jobs are not

Service industry jobs are not bad for the economy. They do employ people. As a short-term response to unemployment, call centers and the like have a role. For sustainable economic gain, however, we need to grow industries connected to the land, not mobile industries that may leave as quick as they came.

Right now Haslam should probably be courting both, but he should be expending more effort on sustainable growth and industries with a tie to our geography.

yellowdog's picture


What kind of "industry" is the source of the Haslams' wealth? It's been pretty good for them, so what's the problem?

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