Obama blamed for economy at Chamber breakfast
by Lindsay Field
August 05, 2013 11:59 PM | 3163 views | 8 8 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Cobb Chamber of Commerce invited a panel for its Workforce Development Panel Discussion during the organization’s First Monday Breakfast at the Cobb Galleria on Monday morning. The panel included, from left, moderator, Dr. Roger Tutterow, Professor of Economics, Mercer University; and panelists Brian Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State; Mark Butler, Georgia Commissioner of Labor; and Tom Croteau, Deputy Commissioner for the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
The Cobb Chamber of Commerce invited a panel for its Workforce Development Panel Discussion during the organization’s First Monday Breakfast at the Cobb Galleria on Monday morning. The panel included, from left, moderator, Dr. Roger Tutterow, Professor of Economics, Mercer University; and panelists Brian Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State; Mark Butler, Georgia Commissioner of Labor; and Tom Croteau, Deputy Commissioner for the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
Brian Kemp
Brian Kemp
State officials say that while business owners are seeing a little bounce back after the recession, they still hesitate to invest or hire employees because of the uncertainty that surrounds Obamacare.

During the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s August First Monday Breakfast, about 360 people learned more about Georgia’s job market from Mercer University professor, economist and Cobb native Roger Tutterow, who moderated a panel discussion with Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp, Labor Commissioner Mark Butler and Tom Croteau, the deputy commissioner of the Department of Economic Development.

“In July, we had a fourth birthday for this economic recovery,” Tutterow said at the start of the discussion. “This recovery is now 49 months old. … Still, what I hear when I see business leaders around the state: ‘When do things get normal?’” Cobb’s unemployment rate was 8 percent in June, the highest in more than six months, but down from 8.6 percent in June 2012, according to the Georgia Department of Labor. Georgia’s unemployment rate for June was 8.6 percent, down from 9.1 percent last June. 

Two million jobs remain lost

Tutterow said that 8.7 million jobs were lost nationally between January 2008 and February 2010
 and that 2 million of those jobs remain gone.

In Georgia, there was a similar pattern of 430,000 jobs lost in the worst months of the recession and 195,000 have been recouped to date, but the metro Atlanta area is still down about 55,000 jobs from 2007.

“You just feel like things are getting better when you’re talking to local chambers and it doesn’t really matter where you are in the state,” Kemp said.

“The bad thing is, there’s still so much uncertainty in Washington, D.C., with (Obamacare) and how that’s going to be implemented, how much that’s going to cost and how that’s going to affect my business that people are just still scared in a lot of ways to make investments and hire people,” he said. “I think that may be part of what’s holding us back on employment.”

Butler and Croteau agreed, with the labor commissioner saying that some people are “sitting on their money” because they are unsure what expenses will be associated with the healthcare law.

The employee mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act, which penalizes employers with more than 50 employees if they fail to provide a minimum standard of affordable health insurance, was scheduled for implementation in January 2014, but the Obama Administration announced in early July the measure will be delayed until January 2015.

“To me, that’s one of the biggest and largest obstacles,” Butler said. “The good news for the state, though, is that hopefully the revenues will continue to increase.”

On the development front, Croteau said his department just wrapped up fiscal 2013 and among the 388 companies they work with, 31,600 jobs were created last year, compared to 22,000 the year before.

He also said that Georgia hit a $6 billion mark for investments in development, compared to $4 billion a year ago. “What was so surprising is that we matched and surpassed the year before,” he said. “So, I think we do have a lot of good news to talk about.”

‘Sitting on hold’

John Loud, who owns Kennesaw-based LOUD Security Systems, said he hesitates to invest or hire employees because of the health care law. “I have 47 employees right now and I don’t know how to slow it down,” he said Monday afternoon. “I’ve been hiring like crazy, but I agree with a lot of people that have been sitting on hold because we don’t know how impactful the health care law will be.”

Loud said the largest check he signs every month is for medical premiums. They pay 80 percent of medical premiums and while he wouldn’t give the exact amount, Loud said it was a five-figure check.

His business, which he started in 1995, was reduced to about 22 employees in September 2011, but has bounced back with about 10 employees each year since then.

Loud said he’s even considered selling his company once he got to a staff of 50 or larger because of the financial impact of the new health care plan.

‘Let’s be conservative’

Gary Bottoms, president of The Bottoms Group insurance company in Marietta, also has embraced the cautious approach to investment and hiring.

“There’s just a feeling of, ‘Let’s be conservative,’” he said. “And they question whether or not to hire somebody.” But Bottoms also said his company has been fortunate despite the economy because The Bottoms Group has seen growth in its clientele the last two or three years because of the looming health care law.

“Our business has grown rather substantially because of the confusion surrounding it,” he said. “We haven’t been hurt at all.”

He couldn’t say exactly how many more clients they have signed on since 2010.

The Bottoms Group, which was started in 1947 by Gary Bottoms’ father, employs eight people, including his son, David Bottoms, and daughter, Laura Higginbotham.

The next meeting will be Sept. 7 and John Stephenson, the president and CEO of the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, will be the guest speaker.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Just Wait
August 06, 2013
You have to feel sorry for Republicans. They spend all their time griping about Obama and voting 40 times to end Obamacare, but just can't seem to understand that not everyone in the country is a wing nut.
August 06, 2013
I am sick and tired of Democrats/Liberals labeling anyone who does not share their ideals and opinions as a "wing nut", or any other derogotory label meaning diminished intellect. I guess when you don't have a valid argument and/or are unable to have an adult conversation you default to school yard name calling.
Kevin Foley
August 06, 2013
How about 70,000 new, good paying jobs if Medicaid were expanded under Obamacare?

Not a word about Nathan Deal, the food stamp governor. Figures.
August 06, 2013
I guess all those that Republicans that spoke at the Chamber breakfast have suffered severe memory loss because they seem to have forgotten the utter economic collapse left by the Bush Administration and how far we have bounced back under the Obama Administration. Given Bush's wars and Bush's debt and Bush's economic policies and today's Republican Congressional House's inability to address jobs, its a wonder we've come this far. But, let Republicans spin their tales at the Chamber breakfast if it makes them think some of us have forgotten their political failures.
Linda in Acworth
August 06, 2013
The real person you need to blame is George Bush

for putting this country in the toilet. Obama

saved this entire Nation from going down the drain.

George W Bush will go down in history as the

worst disaster this Country has ever suffered.
August 06, 2013
What BS. They didn't mind the country going deep into debt with the Iraq war. They kept investing then. Bunch of bitter loser republicans.
Lib in Cobb
August 06, 2013
It has been open season on President Obama since he took office. Business owners particularly in the retail sector are and have been reducing hours of employees to avoid paying for benefits since before The Affordable Care Act was passed. Adding new employees has always been a back burner need. Business owners have determined that they can reduce their workforce and work those left behind harder and pay them less due to the downturn in the economy. Adding new employees is always the last indicator of growth. Our housing market has greatly improved, the stock market is higher now than ever before.

The GOP in any location is more than willing to place complete blame on President Obama, while at the same time not recalling the mess which was passed onto President Obama by George.
mama always said
August 06, 2013
Mama or maybe the Republicans always said the Gub'ment don't create jobs, it creates conditions for job creation.

What is normally correlated strongly with the conditions for job creation? A strong stock market.

How strong is the stock market? It's crazy strong. That's how strong.

Why aren't jobs being created?

Gub'mnet only creates conditions for job growth, so you need to talk to those "job creators" to see what they fear is coming over the horizon.

What is coming over the horizon?


Yeah I wouldn't hire either until I knew the Republican War Goose was finally cooked

When everybody is using electric cars charged at home by solar power, rendering oil a mere messy liquid in the ground, and when we use those electric car batteries at night at home and business with solar power charging them during the day, when we are no longer dependent on Southern Company picking our pockets for the electrons on which we are so juiced, then and only then will we see job growth again.

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