Recession and Recovery

A Recovery for Some But Not All

As Mark Price noted yesterday, there has been a shocking rise in income inequality since 2009.

With Unemployment High, Pennsylvania's Economy Has Been Creating Lots of Bad Jobs

In this year’s State of Working Pennsylvania, our annual evaluation of the health of the economy from the perspective of the middle class, three findings stand out:

  • A definite weakening in the overall pace of job growth in Pennsylvania since January 2010 largely driven by the loss of 45,000 jobs in the public sector

The State of Working PA This Labor Day

Coming on the heels of a day when thousands of fast food workers in 50 U.S. cities walked off the job to protest low wages, the Keystone Research Center is out with a report showing there is ample reason for discontent among Pennsylvania workers.

Third and State This Week: Nutrition Assistance Cuts, Fast Food Worker Strikes, Modest State Revenue Growth & More

This week at Third and State, we blogged about a pending cut and other threats to federal nutrition assistance, what the one-day strikes by fast food workers tell us about the future of the middle class, a post-recession pay cut for the nation's low-wage workers, state revenue growth in the year ahead, and the role of public safety net programs in keeping people out of poverty.


  • On food insecurity, Chris Lilienthal blogged about a report on the significant impact that a pending cut in nutrition assistance will have on low-income families across Pennsylvania and the nation. He also shared a New York Times report on a new study finding that additional cuts proposed by the U.S. House would cost more than 5 million Americans needed food assistance.
  • On unions and the economy, Stephen Herzenberg wrote that the fast food workers engaging in one-day strikes across the country may be on the verge of cracking the code to the next U.S. middle class.
  • On income inequality, intern Ellis Wazeter blogged about a recent study showing that low-wage American workers have taken a post-recession hit to their paychecks.
  • On state taxes, Michael Wood shared a chart showing that General Fund revenue collections are projected to grow very little in the 2013-14 fiscal year.
  • And on poverty, Chris Lilienthal passed on a blog post by Arloc Sherman of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities highlighting just how much public safety net programs have helped keep people out of poverty in the United States.


Low-wage Workers Take Post-Recession Hit to Paycheck

By Ellis Wazeter, Intern

Since the end of the recession, Americans working in low- and mid-wage occupations have taken a bigger hit to their paychecks than their counterparts in higher-paid jobs, according to a study by the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

Third and State This Week: Budget Analysis, Food Security Danger, Unremarkable Private Job Growth & Payday Lenders

This week at Third and State, we blogged about the state budget, the danger facing America's leading food security program, Pennsylvania's unremarkable private-sector job performance, and a gambit by payday lenders that backfired.


  • On state budget and taxes, Sharon Ward shared the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's detailed analysis of the 2013-14 budget, and Michael Wood explained that tax changes enacted along with the budget made some steps toward reform but weigh the state's Tax Code down with more special interest tax breaks.
  • On the federal budget, Sharon Ward wrote that legislation separating agricultural programs from nutrition supports funded through the farm bill poses a threat to food assistance for millions of struggling parents, children, and vulnerable citizens.
  • On jobs, Stephen Herzenberg blogged that Pennsylvania’s private-sector job growth has almost stalled since about a year into Governor Corbett's term.
  • On consumer protection, Mark Price explained how payday lenders won few friends in the state Senate when they convinced House leaders to insert language into a must-pass Fiscal Code bill stating it was the intent of House and Senate leaders to enact payday legislation in the fall.


America’s Food Security Program in Danger

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday voted 216-208 to pass a bill that separates agricultural support programs from nutrition supports funded through the farm bill.

The biggest of these programs is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. It is our nation’s first line of defense against hunger. If the program is weakened, millions of struggling parents, their children, and other vulnerable individuals will be harmed.

Third and State This Week: PA Budget, Closing Loopholes, Funding Schools, and More

The week is not quite over, as Harrisburg remains abuzz through the weekend with budget-related activity. Keep following Third and State for updates through the weekend and into next week.

So far this week, we blogged about the Pennsylvania state budget, a new poll on education funding, a real opportunity for the Senate to close tax loopholes, slowing job growth in the Marcellus Shale, the latest Pennsylvania jobs report, the problem with 401(k) plans, and more.


  • On state budget and taxes, Michael Wood had a Friday afternoon budget update, blogged about the Senate passage of funding packages for the state-related universities, and wrote about the opportunity before the Pennsylvania Senate to close corporate tax loopholes.
  • On education, Chris Lilienthal wrote about a new poll finding that public school funding is a top concern among Pennsylvania voters, even as lawmakers debate a budget that locks in nearly 85% of the classroom cuts enacted two years ago. He also shared a letter to the editor making the case for delaying an unaffordable business tax cut to restore critical educational opportunities for Pennsylvania students.
  • On pensions, Stephen Herzenberg highlighted several recent news and magazine articles showing that 401(k) plans are a bad deal for workers, providing much less retirement security than defined benefit pension plans.
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Mark Price blogged about new data showing that job growth in natural gas extraction has slowed as falling gas prices have led to a reduction in drilling activity in Pennsylvania
  • And on jobs and the economy, Mark Price wrote that Pennsylvania's May jobs report was a mixed bag.


  • Read the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's policy brief on why lawmakers should adopt a strong addback bill to recover some of the expense of costly business tax cuts enacted over the past 10 years.
  • Read findings from a new poll, commissioned by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and Public Citizens for Children and Youth, showing that public school funding is a top concern among Pennsylvania voters. Read a Philadelphia Inquirer report on the poll.
  • Read the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's policy brief setting the record straight on state education funding and get the latest budget news here.
  • Read the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's policy brief on the tens of thousands of veterans in the state who could benefit from expanding Medicaid, and read a Delaware County Daily Times editorial citing the analysis.
  • Read the Keystone Research Center's memo to lawmakers on how a Senate bill modeled on the Governor pension plan will cost taxpayers more than the current public pension systems, and another memo on a report from Pennsylvania's Public Employee Retirement Commission (PERC) confirming the high cost to taxpayers of closing the state's pension plans. Learn more about public pension reform here.

May's Job Picture Is Mixed In Pennsylvania

Unemployment in Pennsylvania fell by one-tenth of a percentage point to 7.5% in May, while non-farm payrolls fell by 9,200, according to a Friday report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Data from the household survey painted an unambiguously positive picture for May: the labor force increased by 16,000, employment grew by just over 24,000, and the number of unemployed declined by 9,000.

Don't Like to Look at Percents? Then PA's Job Rank Is Even Worse

When it comes to evaluating Pennsylvania's job growth performance, Governor Tom Corbett said last week, "I don't like to look at percents." (Watch this clip about 1 minute 15 seconds in for that quote.)

OK, let's compare what Governor Corbett does like to look at — "how many people got on payroll" (actual job growth) before he came into office and since then.

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