Pennsylvania Job Growth Continues to Slide

Acknowledging complexity in economic and jobs data always runs a certain risk. I was reminded of that this week when I spoke with a reporter at PoliticsPA about Pennsylvania’s job growth during Governor Corbett’s administration. After spending an hour on the phone with the reporter laying out the data, the resulting story largely missed the forest for the trees.

First, make no mistake about it, policy decisions made by governors DO impact whether a state’s economy takes on more water, or bails successfully, as it rides the wave of the national economy. In Pennsylvania, 20,000 people in public K-12 schools were laid off following deep state cuts to education funding. That, along with the state’s failure to invest more in infrastructure, has hurt Pennsylvania’s economy.

I often urge caution with reporters on drawing conclusions from small amounts of data (such as from a single month). A much better approach is to look for patterns that hold up over longer periods of time. 

What got lost in the PoliticsPA story is that no matter how you slice the data, job creation in Pennsylvania is in bad shape. 

Much of the debate this week has focused on Pennsylvania ranking 49th in job creation as of March 2013, second only to Wyoming. Even if you average job growth over a full year, Pennsylvania ranks 45th as of the 12 months ending March 2013. As John Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News noted in a column this week, Pennsylvania’s job growth rate by that measure is 0.6%, well below the national rate and that of our neighboring states.

Not good.

It is important to remember that state economic characteristics such as population growth and the extent of economic diversification, in addition to the policies of the current governor, impact short-term job rankings. Additionally, national policies and the national economy are primary drivers of state economic performance. 

But let us not miss the forest for the trees. As the Keystone Research Center has shown, Pennsylvania’s job growth ranking has declined significantly since 2010, regardless of the exact time periods examined. The data clearly show that Pennsylvania’s job performance has been poor since Governor Corbett took office and that partly reflects the policies he has enacted.


0 comments posted

Post new comment

Comment Policy:

Thank you for joining the conversation. Comments are limited to 1,500 characters and are subject to approval and moderation. We reserve the right to remove comments that:

  • are injurious, defamatory, profane, off-topic or inappropriate;
  • contain personal attacks or racist, sexist, homophobic, or other slurs;
  • solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites or to sell products or services;
  • may infringe the copyright or intellectual property rights of others or other applicable laws or regulations; or
  • are otherwise inconsistent with the goals of this blog.

Posted comments do not necessarily represent the views of the Keystone Research Center or Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and do not constitute official endorsement by either organization. Please note that comments will be approved during the Keystone Research Center's business hours.

If you have questions, please contact [email protected]

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <img>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.