Morning Economic News

Morning Must Reads: The Debut of Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office

Yesterday, Pennsylvania's new Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) held a conference to release its economic and budget outlook for the next five years (PDF).

The event included presentations from staff at the Philadelphia Federal Reserve, IHS Global Insight, the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Several of the presentations noted that Pennsylvania’s job growth weakened over the summer primarily due to substantial layoffs of teachers and other state and local workers. The director of the IFO, Matthew Knittel, very cautiously predicted that state and local layoffs are at an end.

Morning Must Reads: PA Department of Public Welfare Adviser Resigns $100K Job Over Conservative Journal, More on Banks

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports this morning that Bank of New York Mellon has reached a partial settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Under the deal, the bank will stop listing services as "free" that it, in fact, charges a fee for. What remains to be settled are monetary damages for allegations that the bank overcharged pension plans and other clients for financial services.

Morning Must Reads: Shameful: PA Has Denied 88,000 Kids Health Care Since August

Key elements of the Corbett administration's strategy are to cut business taxes while reducing spending on public health and education. This morning we learn this strategy has resulted in the loss of health care for 88,000 Pennsylvania children.

Morning Must Reads: While Governor and Legislature Dally, School Buildings Crumble and Tuition Rises

The Reading School District has a backlog of building repairs approaching $750 million. Is anyone in the Governor’s office or perhaps the Legislature paying attention? To see firsthand, they don't even have to go to Reading; they can just turn on CNN this weekend!

Morning Must Reads: Wasteful Asset Tests, Unsafe Schools and an Entire School District Headed for a Shutdown

The Philadelphia Inquirer has an editorial this morning questioning the wisdom of the Corbett administration's move to limit access to food stamps for poor families.

The Inquirer reported earlier this week that the state would reinstate an "assets test" for Pennsylvanians receiving food stamps beginning in May.

This means that anyone under age 60 with more than $2,000 in the bank ($3,250 for those over 60) will no longer be eligible for food stamps. Houses, retirement benefits and a single vehicle are not counted. The $2,000 threshold, a minimum set by the USDA, hasn't changed since 1980.

Morning Must Reads: Where Is the Shared Sacrifice?

When the economy is as weak as it is today, the prudent approach to the state budget is a balanced approach that looks to cut spending and raise additional revenue. A Patriot-News editorial this morning points out that nonprofit groups providing services to victims of domestic violence and rape, as well as people with severe health problems, have been particularly hard hit by the last several years of budget cutting.

Morning Must Reads: New Year, Same Old Economic Austerity

From November 2009 to November 2010, Pennsylvania added 63,300 jobs. From November 2010 to November 2011, the state added just 51,000.

Wait, isn't that backwards? Nope. A weak economy, the end of federal Recovery Act funds and state budget cuts slowed the pace of Pennsylvania job growth in the most recent year.

Morning Must Reads: Inequality of Opportunity in Politics and in Erie County

Thanks to the Occupy Movement, inequality has become a major issue in the Presidential campaign. While taking on the recent campaign developments, Paul Krugman does a nice job summing up what is wrong in America today.

Morning Must Reads: Inequality Matters

A debate has been simmering in this country since the early 1980s about rising inequality, a debate aided by more powerful computers and readily available income data that labor economists use to analyze inequality trends.

The debate has oscillated between two camps — the first arguing inequality trends are troubling, the second arguing a combination of there is no rise in inequality and even if there were it is OK or even good (for the vitality of our economy, for example). The battle of ideas spurred new research using new datasets, but the debate always breaks down in the same way.

Morning Must Reads: The Gender Pay Gap

This morning, the Reading Eagle does a nice job summarizing Berks County and Pennsylvania data on the gender pay gap. One important note, a certain amount of differences in earnings can be explained by variation in what economists call productivity-related characteristics — things such as education and experience. When you make adjustments for this, the gender pay gap is somewhat smaller but still present and meaningful. The bottom line, the unadjusted gender pay gap data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which the Reading Eagle presents, remains a reasonable guide to the state of gender pay equity.

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