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GROSS: Thoughts for the season

• Nov 28, 2017 at 2:00 PM

The editors here have given me the opportunity to write a column from time-to-time, so I wanted to introduce myself. My name is Michael Gross. I work for a manufacturing company here in Ottawa County. I have a lovely wife and four daughters, all grown now. I am a conservative, middle-class, and a Republican, although I do not necessarily agree with all the parts of the platform. I would imagine most people are like that.

At this time of year I think back on those things I am most thankful for. I am thankful for my family and for my friends. I am thankful for the freedoms I have and for those who assure my freedoms exist and continue. But mostly I am thankful for my job. It gives me the chance to spend time with my family and friends, enjoy those freedoms and allows me to do all those small things I take for granted.

In my first column, I wrote a favorable review of the Tax Reform Framework now passed in the House. I still believe the House version of the bill is a good thing and will provide benefits for those who need them most. I also believe it will help business grow and that is important to me. Remember when Perrigo moved its headquarters to Ireland to take advantage of favorable tax conditions? We need to reverse that type of thinking.

I was not surprised to see there was no shortage of opinions on this topic. I think that’s great. Awareness of what government is doing and reasoned debate amongst the people is the first step to keeping government in the people’s hands. I respect all opinions and will always encourage readers to respond.

There was one statement made, however, that I wanted to address. One reader stated that unemployment is “like zero percent.” This is wrong and we should understand the number because this is important. As of August, the U.S. Labor Department placed Ottawa County unemployment at 3.6 percent.

Specifically, that number is called the U-3 Unemployment Rate. It only accounts for individuals who are collecting unemployment. It does not account for under-employment, people who are working part time when they want full time, those who are marginally employed, people who are working jobs at a lower level then they are capable, and those who are out of work but not collecting unemployment. Adding these up is referred to as the U-6 Unemployment Rate. The Department of Labor estimates that Michigan U-6 Unemployment is 2.11 times the U-3 rate. That would be about 7.5 percent or a little more than 10,000 working-age citizens of Ottawa County.

I show all this to emphasize how important good jobs are to Ottawa County and all of Michigan. Retail jobs are important, but they rarely support a family of three. For that, we need solid middle-class manufacturing and service jobs. Many of these 10,000 are low income and need good jobs the most. We must support the effort to bring jobs to Ottawa County.

As we look ahead to next November, we should all be looking for leaders who are going to work to bring new investment, opportunity and good-paying jobs to Ottawa County. And I encourage you to do the same, so next year, many more families can be thankful for the jobs they have.

— By Michael Gross, Tribune community columnist

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