A regulatory reform report released last week suggests that state agencies in Tennessee need to do a better job of assessing the impact of new rules and dealing with the businesses they regulate.
The 54-page study prepared by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development recommends the creation of a "one stop" website for residents to easily find regulatory information. The report also suggests the state implement an assessment process for all regulations prior to their adoption.
The study was based upon more than 150 interviews and surveys with businesses and nonprofit groups across Tennessee.
The report suggests the state develop customer service training to improve the way state employees interact with the public and that agencies implement new personnel policies to better worker performance.
"State employees [who] do not properly conduct themselves or fulfill their duties should be easily disciplined or dismissed by their supervisors," the report concludes.
Gov. Bill Haslam said the review is part of his Jobs4TN economic development plan to identify obstacles to business investment.
"To reach our goal of becoming the No. 1 state in the Southeast for high quality jobs, we must always be focused on strengthening our attractive business climate to attract and grow Tennessee jobs," Haslam said.
Most job growth in low-pay fields
Most of the job growth in 2011 was concentrated in industries that tend to pay low wages and skimpy benefits. But toward the end of the year, and especially in December, hiring became broader-based and included more higher-paying jobs.
Economists say that trend bodes well for the economy, if it holds up.
"It's clear that the skilled end of the labor market has heated up," said Paul Ballew, chief economist at Nationwide Insurance.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, two-thirds of the 1.6 million jobs created in 2011 were in five industries: health care; hotels and restaurants; retail; manufacturing; and temporary help. Except for manufacturing, most of the jobs in those sectors don't pay a lot.
Average hourly wages in the leisure and hospitality industry, made up mostly of hotel and restaurant workers, was $13.31 in December, for example. That compares with $23.93 in manufacturing. Average hourly retail pay was $15.97.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.