Putting the Brakes on Pennsylvania’s Recovery

Public-sector job losses are putting the brakes on Pennsylvania’s economic recovery, endangering private-sector job gains

Those are the findings in a new Keystone Research Center policy brief that I co-authored with Mark Price. (You can read the press release here.)

Over the last year, Pennsylvania has lost 21,000 public-sector jobs, including some 13,000 education jobs. The impact is being felt well beyond the public sector, slowing the pace of private-sector job growth as the ripple effects of out-of-work teachers and laid-off government workers take a toll on the broader economy.

As a result of these public-sector job losses, Pennsylvania is squandering a job growth advantage that it enjoyed over other states coming out of the recession.

Between September 2009 and September 2010, the commonwealth ranked fourth among the states in the number of jobs created and seventh by job growth percentage. During the five months between April and September 2011, however, Pennsylvania’s job growth ranked among the bottom 10 states.

Pennsylvania could restart its job creation engine by enacting a jobs policy that will strengthen the private and public sectors. Options include spending more of the state’s revenue surplus; enacting a natural gas drilling tax to finance job-creation and critical services; maximizing the potential for Marcellus Shale development to create jobs for Pennsylvania workers; and bond-financing infrastructure, school construction and energy efficiency investments when borrowing and construction costs are both low.

All we need is the political will to create jobs.

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