October 2012 Posts

Morning Must Reads: Misleading Voter ID Ads in PA

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Pennsylvania continues to run advertisements with misleading information about voter ID in the upcoming election, advocates tell Mother Jones Magazine this week. (Thanks to Pittsburgh political rapper Jasiri X for sharing the article.)

More On Pennsylvania's 'Tsunami of Jobs'

Pennsylvania Secretary of Labor and Industry Julia Hearthway has hailed “a tsunami of jobs” in the state's Marcellus Shale. Indeed, growing from a small base of employment, mining and logging in Pennsylvania has increased by 67% since the beginning of 2010 (when employment began growing again after the official end of the recession in June 2009). Unfortunately, this tsunami of 15,600 jobs in mining and logging has been entirely offset by a tsunami of 21,000 jobs lost in the public sector.

Not Exactly a Mahogany-paneled Corporate Boardroom

Montgomery County Budget ForumA hundred days after passage of the state budget, it is too soon to fully assess the impact of cuts to human services, Montgomery County's administrator for behavioral health and developmental disabilities told a group of 50 consumers and social service providers at a budget forum last week.

Still, Administrator Eric Goldstein told the forum at the Norristown Recovery and Education Center that he has concerns about the state's move toward block grants for human services funding. Unlike Bucks, Chester, and Delaware counties, Montgomery County did not apply to be part of this year’s new pilot block grant for the Human Services Development Fund.

Eric Goldstein was joined by speaker after speaker who testified to the importance of the modest dollars invested in prevention and community supports for people struggling with mental illness or substance abuse.

Third and State This Week: Pensions Debate, Voter Suppression Laws and Dissecting September Jobs Numbers

This week at Third and State, we took a closer look at the latest Pennsylvania jobs numbers and blogged about the prevalence of voter suppression proposals across the U.S., the wage gap between men and women college graduates, and highlights from a debate in Bucks County over public pensions.


  • On jobs and the economy, Mark Price wrote that for the first time since the start of the Great Recession, unemployment in Pennsylvania moved above the U.S. jobless rate in September. Mark also blogged about a "tsunami of jobs" in Pennsylvania last month and explained how there are two surveys (one of households and the other of employers) used to track employment trends.
  • On voter suppression, Jamar Thrasher blogged about more than 180 voter suppression laws proposed nationwide between 2011 and 2012.
  • On income inequality, Jamar Thrasher wrote about a study finding that women college graduates are paid only 82% of what men earn a year after graduation.
  • On public pensions, Chris Lilienthal highlighted a recent debate on the issue where Stephen Herzenberg of the Keystone Research Center made the point that teachers and other public-sector workers should not be punished for decisions made in Harrisburg that have led to the current pension funding challenges.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

A Pensions Debate in Bucks County

Stephen Herzenberg of the Keystone Research Center squared off with Rick Dreyfuss of the Commonwealth Foundation Thursday night on the topic of public employee pensions. As the Bucks County Intelligencer wrote, the audience at the pensions forum in Doylestown was solidly on Steve's side.

Study Finds College-educated Women Face Income Inequality Early in Careers

The American Association of University Women is out with a study finding that college-educated women are earning only 82% of what men are paid a year after graduation. The report controlled for various factors that affect earnings, such as occupations, majors and hours worked, to ensure the study made a true apples-to-apples comparison.

More Than 180 Voter Suppression Laws Proposed

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We have written a lot about Pennsylvania's Voter ID Law, which has been put on hold by the courts for the upcoming election. Turns out we're not alone when it comes to voting suppression.

Two Jobs Surveys of One Labor Market and Yes They Can Disagree

Remember, folks, there are two surveys that track trends in the job market. The Household Survey and the Establishment Survey. The Household Survey tracks unemployment by asking individuals whether they have actively looked for work in the last four weeks. The Establishment Survey asks employers how many people they have on their payrolls.

Much to the dismay of intrepid business reporters everywhere, it is not unusual for the two surveys to move in two different directions.

A Veritable Tsunami of Jobs In September

Pennsylvania added an average of 1,300 jobs a month between September 2011 and August 2012. In light of that, September was a veritable tsunami of jobs, as the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry explains:

Seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs in Pennsylvania were up 17,800 in September to 5,733,900, the largest monthly gain since February 2012. Following an upward revision to the August jobs count, Pennsylvania has shown a two-month gain of 23,800 jobs.

Holy Jack Welch! Did you just say tsunami of jobs? Didn't Pennsylvania's unemployment rate rise a bit in September? What's going on? I explain here.

So what drove this month's very large increase in employment in Pennsylvania?

Gone Baby Gone: Pennsylvania's September Jobs Picture

For the first time since the start of the Great Recession, unemployment in Pennsylvania moved above the U.S. jobless rate in September, reported the state Department of Labor and Industry on Friday.

Over most of the Great Recession and economic recovery, the state's unemployment rate remained about a percentage point below the U.S. rate. As of September, that advantage is gone, with Pennsylvania's rate of 8.2% exceeding the national rate of 7.8%.