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A Great Day to Downsize

VN Recovery.jpgWe might assume that Phil’s very highest priority is treating the College’s staff well — a priority that he places before hiring young faculty, renovating decrepit dorms, and reining in the out-of-control cost of Dartmouth’s tuition. But if he puts any weight at all on the latter considerations, he might think that this is a good time for the College to slim down its bloated bureaucracy (up almost 50% in the last fifteen years). After all, the local economy is short of workers, so there will be jobs aplenty for custodians, cook helpers, administrative assistants, and even senior executive special associate deans.

John Lippman’s article in the Valley News contained the following curious sentence:

… the economic news is a mixed bag regionally, where New Hampshire and Vermont have lower unemployment rates but also lower growth rates than the national average. When it comes to unemployment, the Upper Valley — Grafton County at 3.8 percent and Windsor County at 3.7 percent as well as the cities and towns within them — have among the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

Umm, John, do you think that these two factors might be related? I would like to grow my own business in the Upper Valley, but I am constrained from doing so because we cannot find personal trainers, hair stylists, daycare providers, housekeeping staff and on and on. I’d say that the recovery is so strong here that we have exhausted the supply of people willing to work, and that’s why growth has slowed.

Many economists would tell you that 4.0% is the frictional rate of unemployment: the rate at which there really is no unemployment at all, just people moving between jobs for short periods of time. Look at the stats for New England from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

NH Unemployment.jpg

In short, we are not in a recovery after all; rather the growth of the local economy has stalled due to a shortage of labor. But if Dartmouth would trim its enormous staff, and use the savings to hire some bright young professors who would come here from elsewhere, several things would happen:

— Laid-off staff members could find other jobs and help the economy grow;

— New professors would improve the quality of a Dartmouth education, and by their many purchases help the economy grow, too; and

— As a leaner institution, Dartmouth would run better.

How about it, Phil? The time is right to finally trim the College’s wasteful bureaucracy. Does your administration have the nerve to do so?

Addendum: As we have written before, on average American workers change jobs every 4.6 years.

Addendum: The national rate of unemployment is far worse than that found in the Granite State:

U.S. Unemployment Rate.jpg


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