|By Walter C. Jones|
Meanwhile, the Libertarian nominee renewed his specific pledge to drop the unemployment rate with employer rebates.
Carter, the Democratic challenger, attacked the Republican governor for having the nation's highest increase in recent layoffs and for leaving the state's middle class in what Carter called "free fall." The July unemployment rate rose from 7.4 percent to 7.8 percent, second-worst in the country behind
"Gov. Deal has just not articulated any vision at all," Carter said. "There has been a grab bag of policies that hasn't worked."
Deal came to office in 2011 promising to address the jobs issue. His re-election campaign has been based on the state being the best place for job creation, according to multiple independent rankings.
The state has gained the seventh-most jobs in the U.S. in that time while its unemployment rate has declined from 10 percent.
"Gov. Deal's low-tax, pro-jobs approach has worked, and we've become the No. 1 place in the nation in which to do business," said Deal's spokeswoman
But Carter said that hasn't been enough. He pointed to the 45,000 students who left technical colleges after Deal scaled back the HOPE Grant, saying many of them could be filling the chronic openings for welders, engineers, computer programmers and motion-picture crews.
Asked by reporters how he would boost hiring, the Democrat said instead of economic development based on financial incentives, he would invest in education, arguing that employers would be inclined to bring their plants to a state with a long-term focus.
"We have to invest in our people. That's the backbone of any economy," he said.
He acknowledged that his recipe might not immediately result in jobs.
"Am I saying that I will go out there and hire a bunch of people in the short term? No," he said.
However, Libertarian nominee
"It will be a huge boost to jobs right away," said Hunt, who notes that he's the only businessman running while Carter and Deal are both attorneys.
Hunt's rebate would only be available for jobs paying more than
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