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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Mike Pence subsidizes offshorers

The Indianapolis Star reports (h/t Greg LeRoy) that the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), which is headed by Governor/Vice-Presidential nominee Mike Pence, has given millions of dollars in incentives to companies that have subsequently offshored jobs to countries including China, Mexico, Taiwan, and Japan.

Not only that, but the 10 companies that outsourced the jobs sent more jobs abroad from Indiana, 3800, than their agreements with the IEDC required them to create, 1087. For this, the companies were initially awarded $24 million. Moreover, four of the 10 companies failed to reach their job commitments and were subject to clawbacks and termination of future payments under their agreements.

This is a startling mix of good practices and terrible practices. On the good side of the ledger, the state uses both performance-based incentives and clawbacks. Not only that, the cost per job is quite reasonable compared to most states, a mere 24,000,000/1087 = $22,079 per job.

The fly in the ointment is that Indiana does not measure job creation goals against a company's pre-existing state workforce, but against its workforce at the project site location only. Thus, Vera Bradley added about 30 jobs at its headquarters in the Fort Wayne area while laying off 250 at another Fort Wayne-area facility, and is considered to be in good standing on its incentives. How can I put this charitably? This is idiotic. As we can see, the ten companies ran rings around the IEDC and got $24 million for creating -2713 jobs.

It's not like other states aren't aware of this problem, so why isn't Indiana paying attention? According to one source quoted by the Star, among the states that prohibit what Indiana has allowed are immediate neighbors Ohio and Michigan, near neighbor Missouri, and also North and South Carolina.

To top it all off, IEDC does not make companies' job performance numbers public. (Banging my head on the table...) Thus, it is impossible to independently monitor the performance of subsidy awards. If not for the existence of federal trade adjustment assistance application data, the Star could not have done this study at all. Fortunately, the data were there, and we are treated to one more instance of the widespread underperformance of subsidy recipients.

And remember: Pence is the guy that Donald Trump chose as his running mate.

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