March 2013 Posts

New Data on Natural Gas-related Employment in PA

This morning the Bureau of Labor Statistics released new data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages for the third quarter of 2012. This means we can expect shortly a new version of Marcellus Fast Facts for Pennsylvania from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. While we wait for that new release, here is a quick preview of what the new data say.

Pennsylvania Could Lose Billions Under Ryan Budget

Federal Medicaid and CHIP Funding Cut by 31% Under Ryan Block Grant in 2023Federal deficit reduction should not fall squarely on the backs of low-income and middle-class families. Yet that is exactly what happens in the budget plan approved last week by the U.S. House of Representatives.

That plan, authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, cuts critical federal funding for Pennsylvania's schools, health care, clean water, law enforcement, and other key services, while providing big new tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest individuals.

PA Lawmakers Need to Hear that Extending Health Care Is the Right Choice

Cover the CommonwealthOur state lawmakers in Harrisburg have a choice:

Accept $43 billion in federal funds allocated to help 700,000 Pennsylvanians get health care coverage and to strengthen our state’s health care system.


Leave hundreds of thousands of working people with no options for health coverage and our hospitals and clinics without critical resources.

Nation's Top Poor Students Are Not in Nation's Top Schools

There are significant disparities between high-achieving students from low-income families and high-achieving students from high-income families, according to a report from the National Bureau of Economic Statistics. Top high school students from poor areas are less likely to apply to America's top colleges and universities, even though they have the academic background to excel at a top tier institution. 

Third and State This Week: PA Jobs Update, Special Tax Break Bills, and How Sequestration Got Its Name

This week at Third and State, we blogged about the latest on Pennsylvania jobs, how special tax breaks are coming at the expense of classrooms and communities, and how those across-the-board federal spending cuts became known as "sequestration."


  • On jobs and the economy, Mark Price blogged about the Pennsylvania jobs report for February. The state's unemployment rate declined slightly, driven by a decline in the state's labor force. Mark also shared an earlier podcast where he explained that weak employment growth and strong labor force growth over the past several months in Pennsylvania meant there have been fewer new job openings available for a growing number of new job seekers.
  • On state budget and taxes, Chris Lilienthal wrote that after making deep cuts to schools, early childhood education, and health services, Pennsylvania lawmakers are now considering new tax breaks that will largely benefit a small number of higher-income earners. Sharon Ward shared another segment of her recent interview with Triad Strategies where she explained that the state cost of corporate tax cuts has more than tripled since 2002, with little to show for it.
  • On federal budget and taxes, Jamar Thrasher blogged about a primer on federal sequestration from Mother Jones magazine that includes how it got that name.


  • The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC) has more on three special tax break bills moving in the state Legislature that will come at the expense of Pennsylvania schools and communities.
  • Learn more about public pension reform in Pennsylvania at the Keystone Research Center's Pensions Issue Page.
  • Learn more about the federal opportunity to expand health coverage in Pennsylvania at PBPC's Medicaid Expansion Resource Page.
  • Learn more about education in Pennsylvania at PBPC's Education Facts Page with data on student enrollment, education funding, and school poverty.

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

PA's Unemployment Rate Drops as More Job Seekers Drop Out

Today, the Corbett administration released jobs data for February, and to answer your next question, yes, they did just release January jobs data on March 8. The release schedule gets a little delayed and then compressed at the beginning of each New Year as the Bureau of Labor Statistics revises data through a process called benchmarking.

So on to the numbers: Pennsylvania unemployment fell one-tenth of one percentage point to 8.1% in February. As I explained this morning, with employment growth weak and labor force growth strong, the state's unemployment rate has been rising since last March. Well half of that equation changed this month as employment as measured in the household survey fell by 6,000, and the labor force also fell by 13,000. As a result, the number of unemployed fell, and the unemployment rate fell very slightly. 

Podcast: As More People Look for Work in PA, There Are Not Enough Jobs to Be Had

I was recently asked whether growth in the Pennsylvania labor market in recent months was a positive sign for the state's economy. It is a welcome sign, but as I explain in this two-minute podcast, there are fewer and fewer new job openings available for these new job seekers. And that has driven up the state's unemployment rate.

Three New Tax Breaks Will Cost PA Schools and Services

After making deep cuts to schools, early childhood education, and health and human services, Pennsylvania lawmakers are now considering new tax breaks that will largely benefit a small number of higher-income earners.

How Sequestration Got Its Name

Automatic cuts to federal funding for a broad range of crucial services are in full effect. As the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has written, this so-called federal sequestration will have a direct, disastrous impact on health care, education and jobs across Pennsylvania.

Podcast: PA Business Taxes Cut But Where Are the Jobs?

In a recent interview with Triad Strategies, I outlined some of our concerns about state tax cuts enacted over the past decade and the Governor's plan to enact a new round of state corporate income tax cuts in the years ahead.

Business tax cuts enacted since 1999 have drained close to $3 billion this year alone from state coffers. The cost of the tax cuts has more than tripled since 2002, with little to show for it. Pennsylvania ranked 27th in job growth in 1999-2000 and 34th in 2011-12.

As I told Triad: "If the goal is to use these tax cuts to improve Pennsylvania’s ability to create jobs, it just has not worked.”

Sharon Ward of the PA Budget and Policy Center Discusses Tax Policy from Triad Strategies on Vimeo.