When does an activist group hold a jobs forum? When it believes the local community is threatened by casino expansion. Operating under the premise that commercial gambling and casino culture are not the answer to the need for local economic development, OccupyAlbany is sponsoring a jobs forum to explore local job creation. Activist Jonathan Capra: "The purpose of this forum is to get the community together and brainstorm about what we can do together to build new forms of economy, whether it be worker cooperatives or other ideas like that. I'd say the agenda right now is pretty open."
OccupyAlbany, which continues to operate behind various causes after being tossed from its encampment two and half years ago, claims jobs are a "common demand" for many in the Capital District; as even “low” unemployment means many are without meaningful employment in a city like Albany with close to 30 percent poverty.
James Ross is the Capital Region Market Analyst for the Labor Department. He says our unemployment rates are well below national and state averages, and the Capital Region is better off than most other areas around the nation. "Our local unemployment rate for the metro area is 4-point-8 per cent. That's below the national rate of five nine and the New York State rate of six-point-one."
But Occupy counters there are many, many residents forced to work multiple part-time jobs to make ends meet. The movement claims the “job creators” have failed the people and continue to do so by proposing more large projects, such as casinos, that don’t deliver what is promised. Several casino proposals are being considered in the region by local governments. Critics of full-size casinos contend jobs often don’t go to the local population.
Dan Moran, president and founder of career management firm NextAct of Colonie, believes more jobs are being created on a part-time basis having to do with the issue of affordable health care. He adds that employers are hiring fewer full time employees, opting for the flexibility that comes with scheduling part-timers. "The bottom line tot many Americans are beginning to see that they do not just work a job but juggle two or three jobs. We refer to that in my world, the career-management world, as a three-legged stool. For those who are facing that, the most important thing is flexibility, scheduling and management. You may find you're doing work with one employer and getting a certain benefit from that employer and a certain benefit from another. Is it going to end? I don't think so."
Occupy argues that current venues for job creation, whether re-training, resume workshops, job fairs or state hiring, prove ineffective and show little results. Hence the need for citizens to create their own "fulfilling and sustainable jobs."
Just how they'll do that is something Occupy will address Wednesday at 6:30 at the main branch of the Albany Public Library.