Fat bonuses for failing institutions

(AP) Despite belt-tightening and possible layoffs, the University of Tennessee still plans to pay nearly $416,000 in bonuses to 202 employees who raise money from alumni and donors. The bonuses are for raising $184 million in donations in 2008, surpassing the year's goal by $9 million and putting UT $44 million ahead in a seven-year schedule to raise $1 billion by the end of from vacant positions has been used to pay the bonuses, but those vacant positions will be gone as UT works to trim $60 million to $100 million from its budget because of declining state revenue. January 28, 2009.

Fat Salaries and Cutting School Budgets

The Bristol Va. City Council and the School Board are pondering what to do for fiscal 2009-10 and see a world the press calls, "dark and gloomy." Their real fear is how much in cuts they face with Gov. Tim Kaine (Democrat) in his fighting with the Va. Senate over their almost $3 billion deficit. (Washington County Virginia leaders I spoke to are also fearful.)

School leaders (Bristol Va.) have submitted a draft plan of their own budget that seeks the same $8.87 million in city funding for the current fiscal year and claimed, "I promise you, when you see our budget, it will be basic with no frills." They fail to mention the absurd salaries they pay themselves.

Yet while the City plowed millions in corporate welfare into retail and tourism development in backroom deals, reality has finally hit for City Manager Bill Dennison: "It's not just Richmond. For every business that closes, that's a hit on our sales tax. For every restaurant, that's a hit on sales and the meals tax. Sales tax revenue has been down for some time and even the meals tax, which had been flat, has begun to decline." He failed to mention the corporate welfare and silly land deals that cost more than what they collected.

See Nicewonder Property Fiasco in 2009: $2.5 million Tax Dollars Wasted

Mr. Dennison has notified department heads to expect budget reductions, once the budget process begins in February and reports are coming in about other businesses in trouble. School Superintendent Ina Danko (who makes an absurd $95,000 plus salary) "outlined for the board an ongoing effort to reduce utility costs by turning out lights, turning off computers, lowering thermostats, buying energy-efficient light bulbs and closely monitoring transportation costs.

The majority of our budget is salaries. Our budget is much like the city's, where 83 to 85 percent of our costs is personnel." No kidding. Government jobs pay far more than most private sector jobs do in Bristol. Ref. BHC January 28, 2009 extracts plus additional information.

Tri-Cities Labor Market Report East Tennessee State University - Third Quarter 2014

Employment levels still falling since 2009.

Existing labor market trends dominated the Tri-Cities Consolidated Statistical Area (CSA) in the third quarter. Compared to the same period in 2013, regional employment was lower by 1.7% to 218,244, while unemployment fell 10.3% to 16,664 as discouraged job seekers continued to leave the regional labor force. The summer unemployment rate for the metro area was 7.1% (compared to 7.7% a year earlier). With the labor force shrinking by 2.4%, the falling jobless rate is a sign of labor market weakness.

Among the twelve regional NAICS industry sectors, employment levels were higher in six, lower in six, and unchanged in none (compared to six, four, and two in the second quarter). Job growth was led by construction, professional & business services, other services, and education & health services. Smaller employment gains were reported by transport & utilities, and leisure & hospitality. Major job losses occurred in retail trade, government, and manufacturing. Small employment declines were reported by wholesale trade, information services, and financial services. Overall, the private sector in the metro area saw modest job growth.

During the July to September period, employment was lower in all three cities - falling 2.2% in Kingsport, 2.0% in Johnson City, and 1.2% in Bristol. Matching the regional pattern, large numbers of unemployed workers are exiting the labor market in each city. This has lowered the jobless counts, contracted the labor force, and reduced the unemployment rates. The percent of workers unemployed was 7.0% in Kingsport, 7.1% in Johnson City, and 7.1% in Bristol. As in the metro area, the lower rates in each city reflect labor market weakness.