Jan 172012
Authors: Andrew Carrera

Job growth talks will be held at CSU Wednesday morning as part of the latest installment in Sen. Mark Udall’s statewide town meeting tour concerning the trending issue.

Udall will be speaking in the Lory Student Center’s East Ballroom from 9 to 10 a.m.

“Efforts like the town hall that Sen. Udall is conducting are indeed significant as, at least optimally, they allow citizens to hear about various proposed policy ideas regarding important issues like job growth and economic development, so that they can learn about the perspective of their elected officials on particular ideas –– and do so at some level of detail, instead of the typical 15-second sound bite,” said Kyle Saunders, a political science associate professor at the university in an e-mail to the Collegian.

The congressman has been traveling the state for the past three years conducting similar discussions about the economy.

His most recent stops in La Junta and Trinidad were aimed at figuring out local concerns and “what should be on his radar so he can continue working with the federal government to create jobs,” said Tara Trujillo, a Udall spokeswoman.

Gallup polls indicate that jobs and unemployment, by a 10 percent margin, are the American public’s top concerns. As of mid-January, 8.3 percent of the population was unemployed.

But some places have it worse than others. While still facing economic difficulty, Fort Collins is fairing better financially than the rest of the nation, with the local unemployment rate at 6.2 percent.

“It should be around 4 to 4.5 percent,” said Martin Shields, an economics professor at CSU. “A few months ago, it was closer to 8 percent.”

The data suggests that the national recession that began in mid 2008 didn’t affect the city as much as most other parts of the U.S. Even still, Fort Collins is recovering faster from what damage it sustained.

Udall aims to contribute to the recovery by figuring out how the federal government can partner with private businesses to create job growth. Last March, he introduced the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act of 2011, which seeks to increase the amount of credit loaned to small businesses.

The legislation, which proposes to raise the lending cap from 12.25 to 27.5 percent, currently sits in committee.

“I think it’s great that he’s coming to campus. It’s an opportunity for students to voice their opinions and get their questions answered,” said Chase Eckerdt, director of Governmental Affairs at the Associated Students of CSU.

The university, he continued, is a sensible place to hold a discussion on local job growth since CSU is the largest employer in the region.

“In a representative democracy such as ours, this is supposed to be how it works –– it is unfortunate that students, for whom these issues are particularly salient in today’s job climate, also, according to behavioral data, come from the least likely age group to participate in the political world, including attending just such an event,” Saunders added.

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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