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Economy: Debt collection is the new growth industry

September 26, 2011 |  5:19 pm

Resume Dropoff

Sometimes a press release is so compelling, you just have to print it:

WELCOME RELIEF TO THE NATION'S 14 MILLION UNEMPLOYED:

PROMINENT DEBT COLLECTION AGENCY, CFS II, ANNOUNCES PLANS TO EXPAND NATIONWIDE

WILL ADD 10,000 NEW JOBS IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS

Well, maybe printing the headline is enough. CFS II, which positions itself as a humane alternative to the hectoring approach taken by the typical bill collector, evidently misses the irony of touting how good the downturn has been for the debt-collection business. The Tulsa, Okla.-based firm plans to launch call centers -- i.e., phone banks its employees will use to dun people for money -- in five states. Each center will employ 500 people initially, growing to 2,000 by the third year of operation, the company pledged.

Chief Executive Bill Bartmann is putting up $6.6 million to fund CFS II's growth, the company said. The risk for Bartmann is that if the economy rebounds vigorously, employment and personal income will rise and the number of people having trouble making ends meet will plummet. From the look of things, though, his $6.6 million seems safe.

As the company put it, "With the current national unemployment rate at an astounding 9.1%, and no new jobs created this past August for the 14 million unemployed consumers, CFS II's expansion marks one company's important step to help defeat the jobs crisis."

Eight states with high unemployment rates are in the running for the five centers, but California is not among them. The state must not have the right jobless-to-deadbeat ratio.

ALSO:

Why (and how) to tax the super-rich

Ben Bernanke shows his independence

Taxing the wealthy to stimulate the economy?

GOP needs a history lesson about class warfare

-- Jon Healey

Photo: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg

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