The Great American Jobs Scam
In communities across America, a scandal is lurking that is far bigger than the recent headline-grabbing debacles of Enron and WorldCom. Here, Greg LeRoy exposes The Great American Jobs Scam, showing how major corporations have learned to use an all-too-often empty promise of "jobs, jobs, jobs" to win economic development subsidies and fatten their own coffers.
The average state has more than thirty subsidy programs, which range from property tax abatements, corporate income tax credits, land write-downs, infrastructure aid, and just plain cash grants. With so many incentives to boost employment, you’d think job creation would be approaching an all-time high. In reality, many companies fail to create or retain the jobs they promise. Many pay poverty wages or fail to provide healthcare to employees. Some move jobs offshore. And many have not created any new jobs—or have actually laid people off since pocketing their incentives.
How can companies get away with this? Because it's a rigged system with no strings attached. Using up-to-the-minute examples and naming dozens of corporate names, LeRoy exposes this process for what it is. He reveals an elaborate cast of characters that includes secretive "site location consultants" who play states and cities against each other; “business climate” experts with highly politicized interpretations of data; rented consultants proffering rosy projections about job creation and tax revenue; and even a fledgling industry that helps businesses buy and sell economic development tax credits.
LeRoy makes the case for strict accountability measures to curtail private disinvestment and restore public priorities. By getting our taxpayer dollars out of private deals and into public goods, and by integrating our jobs strategy with our educational goals and land-use planning, he proves, we can spend less and get more.
Hear Greg LeRoy talk about
The Great American Jobs Scam in a 6 minute audioblog: