Don't Like to Look at Percents? Then PA's Job Rank Is Even Worse

When it comes to evaluating Pennsylvania's job growth performance, Governor Tom Corbett said last week, "I don't like to look at percents." (Watch this clip about 1 minute 15 seconds in for that quote.)

OK, let's compare what Governor Corbett does like to look at — "how many people got on payroll" (actual job growth) before he came into office and since then.

In the 12 months before the Governor came into office, Pennsylvania added 65,600 jobs, ranking the state third out of 50 states. In the most recent 12 months for which we have data (March 2012 to March 2013), the number of Pennsylvanians on payroll fell 5,800. Pennsylvania was the ONLY state over this period to see a reduction in the number of jobs — marking a drop in the state's job growth ranking from third to 50th.

Of course, absolute job change is not a good way to rank states. In normal times, with steady job growth across the board, more populous states will always have larger increases in the number of new jobs than small, less populous states (think California vs. Delaware). That's why percentage job change is a better measure of job growth (and job growth relative to population growth is a better one still).

Perhaps the Governor is counting on the advantages for populous states of using absolute change in jobs as a metric, which could put Pennsylvania, a big state, back in the top 10 by 2014.

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