Morning Must Reads: The Challenges of Local Economic Development

This morning's news has some interesting stories on the challenges of local economic development.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that regional stakeholders have been scrambling to find buyers for three area refineries slated to close.

ConocoPhillips announced that it would sell or close its nearby Trainer complex in six months. ConocoPhillips' decision came three weeks after Sunoco Inc. said it would exit the refining business, with plans to sell or close its South Philadelphia and Marcus Hook refineries in July. At risk are more than 2,000 union and nonunion jobs.

Pa. Revenue Growth Strong in 2011-12, Despite Missing Official Estimates

Some state policymakers are concerned that Pennsylvania tax collections are trailing official revenue targets for the first two months of the 2011-12 Fiscal Year. However, Pennsylvania’s revenue collections for July and August are running well ahead of the same two-month period in 2010-11.

While actual tax collections are below official estimates, some of that underperformance may be attributed to a change in the way those revenue estimates were made, as the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center explains in our recent Revenue Tracker.

Morning Must Reads: Public-sector Job Losses

Good Wednesday morning. Here is your economic news roundup. 

The article focuses on the loss of 600 public sector jobs in the Harrisburg-Carlisle metropolitan area in August, contributing to a rise in the unemployment rate to 7.8%. Since one-month changes in employment are not reliable indicators of employment trends, especially at the metro level, a question exists about whether there is a longer-term trend of public-sector job losses driving down the area's economy. We took a look and the answer is yes, trends in public sector employment are now hurting this region's economy. Below are the details.

To identify longer-term trends in metro areas, economists compute an average of employment over a period of months and then see how this average changes over time. An average over 12 months is reliable and also has the benefit of removing seasonability from the data. The chart below shows a 12-month average of public-sector employment in the Harrisburg-Carlisle region over the past five-and-a-half years. The bottom line: since 2009 the region has shed just over 1,300 jobs in the public sector. We have yet to see the full impact of state budget cuts on local public employment, so more losses are to come.

Recessions Drive Up Poverty Rates

This will come as a little or no surprise to most people, but poverty rates rise following recessions. The economists at the Keystone Research Center recently put together this chart to make that point, using poverty data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey (CPS), going back to 1980.

Recessions Drive Up Poverty Rates in PA and the U.S.

(Click on the chart to make it larger.)

Morning Must Reads: Local Unemployment Data Released for PA

It is raining again!  Here is your soggy morning news.

Krugman summarizes the modern history of macroeconomics in seven bullet points. Read it; there will be a test!

Morning Must Reads for September 26, 2011

Good Monday morning! Do you know where your weekend went? Me Neither.

Public support for family care, particularly generous in Nordic countries, tends to improve women’s ability to combine paid and unpaid work, explaining why Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland are each ranked higher than the United States on the Newsweek/Daily Beast list. But the rankings would change considerably if policies relevant to mothers were factored in. For instance, consideration of early childhood education and paid leaves from work would move France up from its 12th position on the list and move the United States way down.

Third and State This Week: A GOP Drilling Tax Bill, Local Poverty Data and a New Blog Feature

This week, we blogged about rising unemployment in Pennsylvania, a new GOP plan to enact a Marcellus Shale drilling tax and local poverty data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Plus, Mark Price launched a new daily blog feature highlighting the morning's economic news. 


  • On poverty, Michael Wood shared new Census data for Pennsylvania and major metro areas. Included is a look at rising levels of deep poverty in Pennsylvania and across the nation.
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Chris Lilienthal blogged about Governor Corbett's call for an "impact fee" on drilling and a new GOP drilling tax bill adding to the momentum.
  • On jobs and the economy, Sean Brandon provided some analysis on Pennsylvania's August jobs report.
  • Finally, Mark Price launched a new blog feature this week. Check in after 8 a.m. each weekday morning to get a quick and thorough rundown of the day's economic news and opinion. Find out what happened this week on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday!
More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Economic News and Opinion for September 23, 2011

Woohoo, it's Friday! Only 12 hours till quit'in time!  Here is your run down of the morning's news.

So do the wealthy look to you like the victims of class warfare? ... What we know for sure, however, is that policy has consistently tilted to the advantage of the wealthy as opposed to the middle class. Some of the most important aspects of that tilt involved such things as the sustained attack on organized labor and financial deregulation, which created huge fortunes even as it paved the way for economic disaster. For today, however, let’s focus just on taxes.

Krugman is great today. Read it all and share widely.

Poverty Rises Sharply in Most Areas of Pennsylvania

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Poverty has risen sharply in most areas of Pennsylvania, according to new data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. The report highlights the widespread impact of the recession and the need for policymakers to protect struggling families and invest in building a stronger economy.

Overall poverty in Pennsylvania rose by a statistically significant margin, going from 11.6% in 2007 to 13.4% in 2010. Most Pennsylvania metro areas also saw statistically significant increases in poverty from 2007 to 2010.

The number of Pennsylvanians living in deep poverty — the share of the population with incomes below half the poverty line — rose to 5.9% (726,102 people) in 2010. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains, Pennsylvania was one of 40 states to see a statistically significant rise in deep poverty.

Deep Poverty Rose in 40 States Between 2007 and 2010

Two PA GOP House Members to Introduce Strong Drilling Tax Bill

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Republican state Representatives Thomas Murt and Gene DiGirolamo plan to introduce a natural gas drilling tax bill that will support shared statewide priorities as well as local impacts and environmental protection.

Their announcement is part of the growing momentum in Harrisburg in support of placing a tax on drilling in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale. Unlike narrow "impact fee" proposals favored by the Governor and some other lawmakers, the Murt/DiGirolamo plan would benefit both local communities and the entire Commonwealth.

The bill would dedicate 29% of revenue to local government impacts and 27% to statewide environmental programs. The remaining 44% would support shared statewide priorities, including Accountability Block Grants that support pre-kindergarten and early childhood education, human services such as support for people with disabilities and victims of domestic violence, and investments in work training. View more details here.

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