Morning Must Reads: Regulations and Jobs

Bruce Bartlett, former advisor to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, has a column in the Economix blog at The New York Times this morning with compelling fresh evidence (from the Bureau of Labor Statistics) that job creation is not hampered by regulation but, you guessed it, a lack of demand.

Also this morning, as if on cue, news stories appeared about the movement Monday of bills to weaken Pennsylvania's prevailing wage statute. The Pennsylvania House majority leader called the current prevailing wage statute a "job-crushing" law — without actually providing any evidence, naturally.

This week is off to a great start! Monday we demonize the unemployed and Tuesday it is all about regulation. I can't wait for Wednesday.

... Republicans ... embrace the idea that government regulation is the principal factor holding back employment. They assert that Barack Obama has unleashed a tidal wave of new regulations, which has created uncertainty among businesses and prevents them from investing and hiring. No hard evidence is offered for this claim; it is simply asserted as self-evident and repeated endlessly throughout the conservative echo chamber ... The table below presents the [Bureau of Labor Statistics] data [based on information from companies about the causes of large-scale layoffs]. As one can see, the number of layoffs nationwide caused by government regulation is minuscule and shows no evidence of getting worse during the Obama administration. Lack of demand for business products and services is vastly more important.

For these who want to evaluate prevailing wage laws based on actual evidence, the Keystone Research Center released a briefing paper on Monday. The basic finding of the economic research: prevailing wage laws don't raise construction costs (or kill jobs), but they do boost training, skills, safety, and productivity. What's not to like? Oh, that's right, prevailing wage laws help preserve middle-class jobs. Can't have that.

Finally, a piece on the chief of Governor Corbett's new privatization panel.

About $2 million in state contracts have gone to a Pittsburgh-based law firm whose chief executive was recently picked to lead the governor's new privatization panel.

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