Pennsylvania Big Winner in 2010 Job Growth, New Jersey “The Biggest Loser”

There is some good news to be found for Pennsylvania in new data sizing up job performance in 2010.

While far too many Pennsylvania families are struggling in the aftermath of the worst recession in decades, the state’s economy is rebounding better – and faster – than most states.

In 2010, the Commonwealth added more than 65,000 jobs, ranking third among the 50 states in the number of jobs created. On a percentage basis (adjusting for the size of each state’s economy), Pennsylvania’s job growth was 1.2% — exceeding three-fourths of all states.

As we pointed out last week in a policy brief, Pennsylvania’s job growth performance has improved steadily over the past 16 years. Pennsylvania ranked 39th in job growth percentage since December 1994, moved up to 29th during the past eight years, and has ranked 14th — in the top third of states — during the last three years (since the start of the recession in December 2007).

In 2010, one other striking finding emerges alongside Pennsylvania’s good performance on jobs: New Jersey’s poor performance. The Garden State finished dead last of the 50 states based on its 2010 change in the number of jobs, losing nearly 31,000 jobs. Ranked by the percent change in jobs and percentage change compared to growth in the working-age population, New Jersey’s 2010 job growth ranking improved — to 49th.

The contrasting job performances in Pennsylvania and New Jersey likely reflect policy choices: while Pennsylvania has reaped the rewards of investments in renewable energy, education, workforce skills, and local communities, New Jersey has now seen the early returns from drastic cuts in state spending.

So as Governor Corbett prepares to deliver his budget address on March 8, he might do well to take a gander at the most recent job figures. Going forward, Pennsylvania should build on its recent successes, not compete with New Jersey for the 2011 title of “The Biggest Loser.” 

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