Posts by stephen herzenberg

KRC Makes Wall Street Journal Setting Record Straight on Marcellus Jobs

The Keystone Research Center made The Wall Street Journal last week in a story on what the media is characterizing as a “political tussle” over the number of Pennsylvania jobs created in Marcellus Shale-related industries.

On Tuesday, we released a brief showing that less than 10,000 Pennsylvania jobs have been created in Marcellus industries since the end of 2007. The brief corrected recent press reports that confused “new hires” with “new jobs” and made the inaccurate claim that 48,000 new Marcellus jobs had been created. "New hires" and "new jobs" are not the same because most new hires replace people who quit, were fired, or retired.

In the same period that Marcellus industries reported 48,000 new hires (the fourth quarter of 2009 to the first quarter of 2011), there were 2.8 million “new hires” in all Pennsylvania industries — but only 85,467 jobs created. To measure job growth you have to use — big surprise — a jobs data base. That’s what we did.

Now That We’ve Read the Fine Print … Another Look at Pennsylvania's Unemployment Compromise

As Mark Price has noted, the Pennsylvania Legislature approved a compromise bill last week that avoids cutting off 13 weeks of federally funded extended unemployment insurance benefits to 45,000 Pennsylvanians now and will allow another 90,000 Pennsylvanians to qualify for extended benefits through the end of 2011. This year, the bill will draw down $350 million in additional federal funds.

It would have been crazy in this economy, and unfair to 135,000 Pennsylvanians and their families, to leave $350 million in federal funds on the table. But there is a catch with this compromise bill. You see, this bill also contains “savings”— that is, cuts in benefits — that the Department of Labor and Industry estimates will equal almost $1 billion between 2012 and 2018. Permanent savings estimated at $133 million per year in exchange for about six months of additional benefits equal to $350 million.

The Benefits of Paid Sick Days

In recent weeks, I've written here and here about legislation before Philadelphia City Council that would allow every worker in the city to earn paid sick days.

To round things out, I am now passing along an op-ed I co-authored with Lonnie Golden, a professor of economics and labor studies at Penn State Abington, that was published last week in The Philadelphia Daily News urging City Council to pass the paid sick days bill. Post a comment to let me know what you think.

Public Health Experts Advise Against Further Privatization of Alcohol Sales

Posted in:

Back in April, a group of public health experts put out a statement with little fanfare recommending against the further privatization of alcohol sales.

This recommendation is based on evidence that privatization would increase excessive alcohol consumption and related health and social problems. It was released in an April statement from the Task Force on Community Preventive Services, an independent, volunteer body of public health experts created in 1996 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The debate over privatizing Pennsylvania’s wine and spirits shops may be taking a backseat to the state budget these days, but as the conversation returns to privatization in the fall, lawmakers and journalists should read the Task Force’s findings. It is the most definitive statement on retail alcohol privatization issued to date by U.S. public health researchers.

Paid Sick Days Can Help Make Philadelphia a High Road City of Opportunity

Last week, I wrote that when you look at the positive benefits and the low costs of Philadelphia’s proposed paid sick days legislation, it could end up paying for itself.

As I wrote that, I could almost hear a collective gasp from neoclassical economists: “If it paid for itself, employers would already do it!”

Using NFIB Economist’s Estimates on Paid Sick Days: It’s Not Cricket

As a kid living near Manchester in the north of England, my first love was cricket. The sport (it is a sport) comes up nowadays when I use the phrase “it’s not cricket” — as in, it’s not acceptable, it’s not done.

In a report circulated to Philadelphia City Council and the media (but not online that I can find), Dr. William Dunkelberg estimated the cost to employers of enacting paid sick days legislation in Philadelphia. Even if you oppose paid sick days, you shouldn’t use the Dunkelberg estimates because, well, “It’s not cricket.” The estimates are so transparently inflated that folks who live in a fact-based world shouldn’t use them.

Teacher Salaries and the Medieval Bloodletting of the Public Schools

Posted in:

Many people know Dave Eggers for his entertaining first book A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. It's the story of the death of both his parents from cancer within a matter of months, and Eggers' subsequent raising of his younger brother to adulthood.

A few weeks ago, a New York Times op-ed, "The High Cost of Low Teacher Salaries," introduced me to the efforts of Eggers and his colleagues to educate the public on the need to elevate the status and salaries of teachers. The op-ed starts with a compelling analogy: when the U.S. runs into challenges in military conflicts, it doesn't start pointing fingers at men and woman fighting in the trenches for low pay and little recognition. Instead, we ask questions about the performance of military leaders and whether we are providing training and supports that give soldiers a chance to succeed.

Ohio's Governor Kasich Makes Clear Which Side He Is On

Our friend at the dynamic Policy Matters Ohio think tank, Amy Hanauer, has a powerful article in the most recent issue of The Nation, voicing the outrage of many in that state, as Governor John Kasich takes a state and a middle class that are down and gives them a good hard kick.

One example: The Governor recently explained his efforts to cut public-sector compensation by saying, “When I go to Bob Evans and I see a woman ... who doesn’t have any pension, and I don’t even know if she has healthcare benefits — and if she does, they’re shabby, at best — to think we’re asking public workers to do a little bit more ... it’s fairness.”

Yet what is the Governor actually doing for workers at Bob Evans? Looking to cut the state's Medicaid program that insures more than 4,700 of the chain’s employees.

Governor Kasich is also preserving a large state tax cut for the likes of Bob Evans CEO Steven Davis (with his $3.9 million annual salary). To top this off, Ohio just provided $7.7 million in incentives to keep Bob Evans headquartered in Cleveland — but did nothing to require the company to raise wages, provide even "shabby" health care, or any pension benefits.

Certainly sounds fair to me.

Mexican Trade Deficit Costs Pa. 26,000 Jobs Since 1994

Our friends at the Economic Policy Institute have a new report tracking the number of lost or displaced jobs as a result of the United State's trade deficit with Mexico.

In 1993, before the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect, the U.S. had a $1.6 billion trade surplus with Mexico, which supported 29,400 U.S. jobs. Since then, imports from Mexico have grown much faster than U.S. exports, resulting in large trade deficits that have displaced 682,900 jobs nationwide since 1994. The trade deficit with Mexico currently totals $97.2 billion.

For Pennsylvania, this trade deficit has cost us more than 26,000 jobs since 1994. That puts us in eighth place among the 50 states in the raw number of jobs displaced and 20th as a share of total employment.

Millionaire Tax Didn't Chase the Rich From Jersey, So Why Not a Higher Tax Rate on Pa.'s Top Earners?

Anti-tax advocates maintain that higher tax rates on the wealthy lead to millionaire flight. But a study of a 2004 “millionaire tax” in New Jersey shows that, in fact, the rich don’t move to avoid higher taxes.

The new study was written by sociologists at Stanford and Princeton and published in The National Tax Journal. Economist Robert Frank reported on it in The Wall Street Journal, writing that the study “provides some of the most detailed evidence yet that so-called millionaire taxes have little effect on the movements of millionaires as a whole.”