Morning Must Reads: Jobs Down, College Tuition Up, School District Taxes Up and Policy Makers Are Focused On What?

On Tuesday, the Keystone Research Center published a summary of the employment situation in Pennsylvania. With the release of September's jobs data, which included a loss of just over 15,000 jobs, a picture is emerging of a job market in Pennsylvania that is shrinking. The continued loss of public-sector jobs and relatively slow growth in private-sector jobs is the main source of weakness in the labor market. The bottom line is that although Pennsylvania ranked in the top 10 of states in terms of job growth early in this recovery, the Commonwealth has moved to the bottom 10 in the last five months.

Much of the public-sector job loss is driven by the fact that tax revenue has yet to fully recover from the recession, the end of federal Recovery Act funding, and state lawmakers' unwillingness to raise state revenues which has deepened state budget cuts.

In related news — stemming from state budget cuts in funding for higher education — The Pittsburgh Post Gazette this morning reviews the latest on tuition costs at colleges and universities in Pennsylvania.

The average cost of tuition and fees at a public four-year college in Pennsylvania grew by 7 percent, from $11,331 last fall to $12,079 this fall, the College Board said. That's an average increase of $748.

Pennsylvania's average cost of $12,079 for four-year public college tuition and fees puts it behind only New Hampshire at $13,507 and Vermont, $13,078.

In K-12 education, local school districts are looking to compensate for state budget cuts through increases in property taxes. 

Meanwhile, state policymakers, instead of focusing on ways to maintain employment in education and more generally, are moving to approve a school voucher program. 

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