October 21, 2021

Local hiring not tied to tax plan

Nick Graziano/contributing photographer

Jake Reagan, a log scaler at Gutchess Lumber in Cortlandville, measures the trunk of a log Wednesday. The company has advertised for new employees, but company officials said their decision is not related to the recent changes to the federal tax laws.

President Donald Trump promised the tax-cut plan he signed into law last month would create economic growth and jobs, but several of Cortland County’s largest employers have since said what hiring plans they have, if any, had nothing to do with the tax cuts.

“Cortland Regional is a nonprofit organization, so those big corporate tax breaks that are anticipated will not benefit us,” said Bonny Griffith, marketing and commications director for Cortland Regional Medical Center, with more than 700 employees the largest private employer in Cortland County.

The federal tax code Congress passed last month, and Trump signed, cut the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent. Supporters of the new code say that by giving employers a tax cut, they will hire workers and raise wages. Opponents argue that, besides adding nearly $1.5 trillion to the national debt, the cuts will further the inequality between the rich and poor.

But the employers, at least in Cortland County, say the bill doesn’t change their hiring plans.

Cortland Regional Medical Center plans to hire at least a dozen people, including a nurse recruiter, several registered nurses and nine to 10 other positions, Griffith said. But those hires have nothing to do with tax code changes.

In fact, she said, the tax code is likely to hurt the hospital. The new code’s repeal of the individual health insurance mandate and anticipated Medicaid changes would increase the uninsured population and raise uncompensated care costs. The hospital also expects to lose donations — people
who itemize deductions are more likely to make charitable contributions, and the tax changes make itemizing less beneficial.

Intertek Testing Services’ Cortland branch, which has about 300 employees, plans no new hires, said Bernadette Sinclair, Intertek’s human resources manager. “We plan on hiring according to our business needs,” Sinclair said.

Cortland County’s largest private employers

• Cortland Regional Medical Center: 700+ employees
• Marietta Corp.: 600 employees
• Pall Trinity: 500 employees
• Intertek testing services: 300 employees
• J.M. Murray center: 200 employees
• Crown Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation: 200 employees
• Cortland Asphalt/Suit Kote: 250 employees
• Greek Peak Ski Resort: 200 employees (seasonal)
• Gutchess Lumber: 200 employees
SOURCE: Cortland County Business Development Corp.

Jeff Breed, the company spokesman for Gutchess Lumber, which has about 200 employees, said that senior management has no definitive plans to make changes in their operations due to the tax changes, although it has been advertising to hire new people.

“We as a company are looking to expand our productive capacity regardless of the tax situation,” Breed said.

Shelley Ketchum, the branch manager for Manpower, an employment agency with about 100 employees on Groton Avenue, has not yet met with her clients on the matter, so she does not know if they, or her agency, plans on hiring people.

Those sentiments are similar to nationwide companies. Of the nation’s top 20 companies, only CVS, which has a Cortland store, and AT&T, which also has one retail store, said they would hire more workers, the Washington Post reported. None of them explicitly said they would raise wages.

Bonnie Haines, a human resources employee for Greek Peak resort, declined to comment. Representatives from Suit-Kote Corp. and Crown Park Rehabilitation and Nursing Center could not be reached.