Higher Education

Third and State This Week: Weak Drilling Fee, More Bad Employment News and Ranking Social Well-being

This week, we blogged about the latest developments in enacting a Marcellus Shale drilling fee, more bad employment news for Pennsylvania and a new study ranking nations based on indicators of social well being (the U.S. doesn't do so good).

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On the Marcellus Shale, Sharon Ward provided an update on legislative developments in the Pennsylvania House, and Michael Wood shared a new fact check from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center comparing the effective rates of leading drilling tax and fee plans before the General Assembly.
  • On inequality, Stephen Herzenberg blogged about a new study that ranks the 31 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries on eight indicators of social well-being. The U.S. ranks 27th.
  • On jobs and unemployment, Mark Price wrote about more bad employment news for Pennsylvania, including a revised outlook from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve signaling that the state's economy will be shrinking through the first quarter of 2012.
  • In the Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price summed up local unemployment data, shared an amusing video from The Daily Show suggesting that it is time for the 1% to go on strike, wrote about rising college tuition and budget strains for local governments, highlighted a lack of political will for fixing the broken economy, and noted that some in the U.S. Senate would just prefer that people that have to drive over structurally deficient bridges would just drop dead.

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

Morning Must Reads: Local Governments Under Pressure, Students Under Pressure, State Policy Makers Not So Much

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the body that establishes monetary policy at the Federal Reserve, announced on Wednesday that it is expecting the economy to grow more slowly than previously thought over the next several years. 

In response to the deteriorating economic situation, the committee decided to do nothing. 

At his press conference explaining the FOMC decision, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke urged Congress to do something about jobs.

'I think it would be helpful if we could get assistance from other parts of the government to help create more jobs,' Mr. Bernanke said.

Meanwhile, with unemployment high, federal assistance running out and the state cutting spending, local government finances are deeply in the red. Lackawanna County appears headed for layoffs and tax increases.

A bipartisan advisory panel recommended Wednesday that Lackawanna County increase real estate taxes to balance its 2012 budget, warning a steep hike will be required as county government contends with a financial crisis that will not be resolved quickly or painlessly.

The Philadelphia School District, also deeply in the red, has a plan to save up to $9 million by closing nine schools.

Turning to college kids, student loan debt rose by 5% in 2010. Public colleges, faced with significant cuts in state support, raised tuition nationally by 7.3% this year. 

Third and State This Week: Gloomy Economic News, Trade Agreements and Tracking Salaries

This week, we blogged about the need for a jobs plan, an effort to make labor markets more transparent, and the negligible effect the recently passed trade agreements will have on reducing joblessness. Plus, the Friday Funny is back, with the warm words of everybody's favorite CEO, T. Herman Zweibel (extra points, if you know who that is without looking him up).

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On the recession and recovery, Mark Price addressed a Patriot-News editorial that calls for passage of the American Jobs Act but misstates the important impact that the Recovery Act of 2009 had on turning the free-falling economy around. Mark also blogged about some of the awkward facts that make it difficult to root for GE and other multinationals.
  • On unemployment and the economy, Mark compared a poll performed by the Mercyhurst College Center for Applied Politics with labor analysis done by the Keystone Research Center — both finding that roughly 1 in 4 Pennsylvania residents have had less paid work than they wanted during the last 12 months.
  • In other economic news, Mark blogged about Congress' failure to address the lack of consumer demand that is keeping unemployment high and its passage of a free trade agreement that will have a negligible impact on U.S. employment.
  • On wages and the workplace, Chris Lilienthal blogged about an online project aimed at creating a more transparent labor market. You can share and compare salaries and wages, understand your rights on the job, and look up the salaries of politicians, CEOs, athletes, and Hollywood stars.
  • Lastly, a bit of humor after a gloomy news week. Chris shared some satire from The Onion's publisher emeritus, T. Herman Zweibel, who is shocked that his repeatedly mistreated employees are in disbelief that he would move their offices to the Yukon.

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

Morning Must Reads: Hard Times In Pennsylvania and Debates About Higher Education

The Mercyhurst College Center for Applied Politics has released to The Philadelphia Inquirer the results of a poll asking Pennsylvanians about the impact of the economy on their lives.

The poll found that one in four Pennsylvania residents has had someone living in his or her household lose a job or be laid off in the last 12 months — and two out of three had close friends or family members who were put out of work in that time. More than three out of every four Pennsylvanians said they knew individuals or families who struggle every month to afford basic needs such as rent, utilities, health care, clothes, or food. 'The poverty question was startling,' said Joseph Morris, a professor and director of the college's Center for Applied Politics, which conducted the poll, 'as was the fact that a strong majority of Pennsylvanians have had to make lifestyle changes because of the economy.'

The Mercyhurst College Center findings mirror those of the State of Working Pennsylvania 2011:

Over one in four Pennsylvania workers — and nearly one in three U.S. workers — have had less paid work than they want during the last 12 months. ... National poll results reveal that, between 2009 and 2011, 43% of likely voters had been unemployed or someone in their family has been unemployed. Since likely voters are a significantly more educated, higher-income group than typical voters, the share of all workers that have been unemployed or had a family member unemployed almost certainly exceeds 50%.

Morning Must Reads: Unemployment Up, Incomes Down

The New York Times this morning leads with a story based on a report by a private consulting firm called Sentier Research LLC. In the chart that follows, the quote below the plummeting red line is a measurement of income for the typical household and the skyrocketing black line is the unemployment rate. If you come across anyone arguing that we should do nothing to spur job growth, it is probably because profits measured as a share of national income reached their highest share since World War II, even while incomes have been decimated by high unemployment.

Between June 2009, when the recession officially ended, and June 2011, inflation-adjusted median household income fell 6.7 percent, to $49,909, according to a study by two former Census Bureau officials. During the recession — from December 2007 to June 2009 — household income fell 3.2 percent.

Third and State This Week: Strong Revenue Growth in PA, Rising Student Loan Defaults, and Morning Must Reads

This week, we blogged about rising rates of student loan defaults, Pennsylvania's strong revenue growth early in the fiscal year, and rising poverty in the wake of recessions. We also started each day with the "Morning Must Reads," highlighting the must-read economic news and opinion of the day. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On higher education and unemployment, Sean Brandon blogged about the rising number of student loan defaults as young college grads find jobs harder to come by in this economy. 
  • On poverty and recessions, Chris Lilienthal shared a chart showing how the recessions of the last 30 years have driven up poverty rates in their aftermath.
  • On state budget and taxes, Michael Wood wrote about a new Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center analysis showing that state revenue collections in the first two months of 2011-12 are running well ahead of the same two-month period last year. Mike also shared a chart showing that July-August tax collections have outperformed the same two-month period in the last five fiscal years. September revenue collections will provide a much better idea of what to expect in future months.
  • Lastly, Mark Price greeted you each daybreak with the "Morning Must Reads," highlighting current economic news and opinion. This week, Mark highlighted articles on paid sick leave, public sector employment losses, the challenges of local economic development, local area unemployment rates and the bupkis Congress is doing to spur economic recovery
More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

High Unemployment Leads to More Student Loan Defaults

Sean Brandon, InternBy Sean Brandon, Intern

The U.S. Department of Education recently released 2009 fiscal year data on the number of students defaulting on college loans. In a press release, the Department noted that the national default rate rose from 7% in 2008 to 8.8% in 2009, affecting loans for all types of colleges and universities. The default rate rose from 6% to 7.2% on loans for students at public institutions, 4% to 4.6% at private institutions, and 11.6% to 15% at for-profit institutions.

Among the states, Pennsylvania has the third highest number of higher learning institutions (behind California and New York) and a student default rate of only 6.6%, which is considerably better than the national rate. However, Pennsylvania is no exception when you compare the relationship between the unemployment rate and the borrower default rate. 

Third and State This Week: States Cutting Budgets, the Debt Ceiling Debate, and a Middle Class 'Under Attack'

This week, we blogged about the looming debt ceiling crisis in Washington, how state budget cuts will hurt the economic recovery, Marcellus Shale job claims, a new report on the middle class in Pennsylvania and more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • This week was a busy one for Mark Price, who penned four of our five blog posts. On the Marcellus Shale, Mark corrected an inaccurate figure in a recent Wall Street Journal piece about jobs created in Pennsylvania from Marcellus Shale drilling.
  • On the economy, Mark wrote about a recent report from the Keystone Research Center and the national policy center Demos on a middle class that is "under attack" in Pennsylvania. He also blogged about a new policy brief analyzing Pennsylvania's June jobs report.
  • On the federal debt ceiling debate, Mark shared his op-ed on this "manufactured crisis" which ran on FoxNews.com this week.
  • Finally, on the state budget, Chris Lilienthal highlighted a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finding that at least 38 of 47 states are cutting K-12 education, higher education, health care, or other key public services in 2012. According to the report, this cuts-only approach that most states have taken will slow the recovery and weaken the nation’s economy over the long term.

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

State Cuts to Education, Health Care Will Slow Recovery

We have written about the negative impact that deep cuts to state funding will have for Pennsylvania children, seniors and our economy. Now a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that we aren't alone.

At least 38 of the 47 states with new 2011-12 budgets are cutting K-12 education, higher education, health care, or other key public services, according to the report. As Policy Analyst Erica Williams writes at the Center's Off the Charts Blog:

While states continue to face rising numbers of children enrolled in public schools, students enrolled in universities, and seniors eligible for health and long-term care services, most states (37 of 44 states for which data are available) plan to spend less on services in 2012 than they spent in 2008, adjusted for inflation — in some cases, much less.

State lawmakers no doubt faced tough decisions this year, with revenues still far below pre-recession levels and emergency federal aid all but expired.  Still, our review shows that the cuts are unnecessarily harmful, unbalanced, and counterproductive.

The Middle Class ‘Under Attack’

At the Keystone Research Center, we have been chronicling for years the forces that are putting a tighter and tighter squeeze on middle-class Pennsylvanians.

Last week, we released a new report in partnership with the national policy center Demos that takes the temperature of the state's middle class in the wake of the Great Recession. I'm sorry to say, once again, the patient is not well.

The state's annual unemployment rate is the highest it has been in nearly three decades and the cost of going to college is on the rise.

According to the report, times are particularly tough for Pennsylvania's young people, with state budget cuts to 18% of public university funding and a 7.5% tuition hike in Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education. Pennsylvania's young people already bear the seventh highest rate of student debt in the nation — at approximately $28,000 on average.

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