MLA 2012: General Session

General Session:

Scott Jensen
Interim Secretary, Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation

The Dog Ate My Home
Anirban Basu, Sage Policy Group

Surprise appearance by Tray Chaney to perform two raps: “Radical Readers” and premiere of one about bullying on his upcoming record.

Interim Secretary Jensen is filling in – Sec. Sanchez took another job last week – going to be Mayor SRB’s new chief of staff.

  • Lots of money flows through the DLLR. They’re trying to help people get jobs, adult ed. Librarians called and they were wondering “huh? Why do librarians care about this?” Conversion experience after meeting. It’s not just about research – heart of the community. Whey people get lost, they go to the library.
  • “We get it. We absolutely get it at the DLLR . . . we will continue to get it.”
  • DLLR runs One-Stop Centers in neighborhoods. “It looks a little bit like a library.” Folks there to steer you in the right direction.
  • So many people want to take the GED, really hard to accomodate all of them. Not enough seats available in the location that people want to take it. Trying to figure out a way that those tests can be electronically administered in public libraries.

Anirban Basu

  •  Start by talking about the global economy. Media is focused on the bad economic news – rattled off a huge list of countries. But it’e expanding. Typical year expands by 4%, but grew by more 2004 -2008.
  • Global savings glut – too much money. People do foolish things when they have too much money available to them. Financiers made some terrific misjudgements during this period.
  • Failure of Lehman Bros changed the world. Bear Stearns had problems earlier in the year but was “married off” to JP Morgan and things were OK. Then Lehman Bros – “too big to fail.” Mid-Sept, Feds were trying to find a buyer. Failed on Monday, 9/15. Recession was already underway at this point.
  • US: 2% of world’s population but 20% of it’s output.
  • Global economy shrank in 2009. Much better in 2010. Down a bit in 2011 and probably 2012. Eurozone economies are impacting this.
  • Who participated in the recession that started in 12/07?
  • When you’re so diverse, someone should be doing OK even in a recession. This time? According to Gross State Products, all were in recession as of May 2009. First time since ’73-’74 all states were in recession.
  • American household is feeling the pinch from all sides.
  • Technically the recession is over and has been for a while. Most states are in recovering, few “at risk” as of 12/11. North Dakota’s economy is expanding. Only GA still in recession.
  • All we needed to do was just keep shopping! Patriotic! Stick it to the terrorists – go to the mall!
  • Industrial production includes energy production – companies are “re-shoring” production into the US.
  • 11 quarters of economic growth since 2010Q2 (I think – hard to read chart). Disappointing though because of the composition of the growth. Companies and gov’t are pulling back on investments and too reliant on consumer spending.
  • June 30 of this year is anniversary of 3 years of economic recovery.
  • Early 2010 – Census Bureau hired several thousand people. Makes a spike in early 2010 that then drops off back into job losses.
  • Feb, March April 2011 – 300,000 jobs a month added to economy. Momentum is lost in May. Why? Gas prices, food prices increased. American budget couldn’t handle higher gas & food prices – can’t avoid these costs. Earthquake & tsunami in Japan put more pressure in the global economy.
  • Last April, treasury is concerned. “We pay the nation’s debts, but we are running out of money.” Has a few months of cash on hand so OK for a while, but treasury is more and more worried.
  • Most jobs have been added in the service sector. Government is losing the most jobs right now – state & local government jobs. Mostly teachers – mostly women.
  • What does this mean for libraries? Largely financed by the public sector. Local gov’t contributions to libraries over time had a very slight rise during housing boom. State assistance during that time gently fell. Not being spent on staff – numbers are flatlined.
  • Visits were way up. Goes up as economy goes down.
  • Impact of the Doomsday Budget – special session on May 14 to try to head this off. Slashes education funding, cuts 500 state workers. All state agencies take an 8% budget cut.
  • Also federal budget issues that disproportionately impact this region of the country. Expiration of Bush Tax Cuts, Payroll Tax Cut.
  • MD’s economy in the last year – “Tale of Two Economies.” Suffered – federal agency heads we ou cutting back. Hoarding cash. Deeply affects MD economy. Ranked 50th in job growth (data from May 10-May 11??). BRAC had a positive impact. Now one of the fastest-growing states in terms of jobs. Now 8th in job growth. 16th lowest unemployment rate.
  • DC metro has lowest regional unemployment rate. B’more-Towson is 8th.
  • Mortgage rates are still at a historic low. You would think the housing market would be on the mend if you looked just at this metric.
  • Echo Generation is now hitting college. Largest college freshman class in history last year. Upper limit of this group turns 32 this year, mostly in late 20s.
  • Zero indication of increase in new home sales. No new housing starts, no new/increase in tax base. Tons of real-estate related taxation revenue has disappeared. (AACo is seeing a lot of BRAC-related homebuilding, though. “Trailing Spouse” wants to move into a new community where there’s an equal shot at social integration.)
  • Huge focus on American consumer – not just numbers but psychology. Surveys say – we are miserable. Not just nervous. Angry. Personal savings rate is falling because consumers are spending. You can see it. Retail & food services numbers are up. He sees it mostly at the restaurants.
  • Luxury department store sales are up. Discount store sales are as well, almost as much. Then Wholesale and regular department stores as well. National vehicle sales are up. New car sales really struggled during the downturn. Now way up and used sales are flat.

Q&A

  • “Tragedy of the Commons” – free good used to exhaustion. Why aren’t library shelves empty? AB: I can’t sell the books for $4 a bushel. It’s a free resource, but I can’t directly profit for it. Indirectly, yes.
  • Can you comment on student loan debt? AB: Heralded by many to be the next economic crisis. 27% delinquency rate – at least 1 payment behind. Mostly federal loans. This is going to hit the fed gov’t balance sheet. $1 trillion dollars of outstanding student debt right now.

Tray Chany, rapper and was on The Wire

  • Created “Radical Readers,” a rap for the Radical Readers program in March. Tries to do positive music to inspire the community. His wife & kids are here with him today. Also a world premiere of an anti-bullying rap.
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