Out with Austerity Economics, In With a ‘Moral Economy’

We released our annual State of Working Pennsylvania at the Keystone Research Center today.

Bottom line: the report shows that the economy is limping along and our job market is broken. State and federal policies driven by austerity economics are increasing joblessness, sparking greater economic inequality and undercutting American values.

With working families still struggling in this weak economy, we make the case for an alternative approach that focuses directly on job creation and building a stronger economy. We’re calling this new direction a “moral economy”— one that is more competitive economically and supports rather than undercuts American values.

Painting a Fuller Picture of Gas Drilling in PA Economy

The folks at the Penn State Marcellus Shale Education & Training Center, a collaboration of the university’s College of Technology and Agriculture Cooperative Extension service, took a look at the Marcellus Shale’s impact on Pennsylvania employment and income in 2009.

So what did they find? The Marcellus Shale is creating jobs, development and increased income, but at a much more modest level than predicted by industry studies. 

New Commission to Gather Citizen input on Marcellus Shale Drilling

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A new commission will convene this week giving the citizens of Pennsylvania an opportunity to tell their side of the story about drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

Eight civic and environmental organizations have teamed up to launch the Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission. Chaired by former state Representatives Carole Rubley and Dan Surra, the commission will hold hearings across the state to gather citizen perspectives on the Marcellus Shale and produce a final report for policymakers by early October.

Third and State This Week: July Jobs, Public Sector Wages, an Insurance Marketplace and Why People Move

This week, we blogged about the future of purchasing health care insurance, the state of employment in Pennsylvania, the wages of public versus private sector workers and more!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On public sector wages, Stephen Herzenberg highlighted the recent, albeit not surprising, findings of an Economic Policy Institute study documenting that jobs in Pennsylvania state and local government are not the way to get rich.
  • On unions, taxes and migration, Michael Wood debunked claims that the outmigration of Pennsylvania taxpayers can be linked to unions. Most of the departures between 2004 and 2009, Mike writes, were to states with warmer climates.
  • On health insurance, Christopher Lilienthal blogged about the creation of a competitive health-insurance marketplace in Pennsylvania and how that will make purchasing high-quality and affordable health care easier and more efficient.
  • On jobs and the economy, Sean Brandon sorts through the recent labor market data and explains why we shouldn't put too much stock in a single month's jobs numbers, good or bad.

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

About Those PA Job Numbers

Sean Brandon, InternBy Sean Brandon, intern

Last week (while Third and State was on holiday), Pennsylvania’s July jobs report came out. The unemployment rate for July jumped from 7.6% to 7.8%, with 493,681 Pennsylvanians out of work.

News Flash: PA Public-Sector Jobs Not Path to Riches

The Economic Policy Institute has a new report out documenting — surprise, surprise — that jobs in Pennsylvania state and local government aren’t the way to get rich.

The report, authored by Rutgers University labor and employment relations Professor Jeffrey Keefe, shows that Pennsylvania public-sector workers make the same or slightly less in wages plus benefits than comparable Pennsylvania private-sector workers. The more-generous benefits of public-sector workers are balanced by lower wages and salaries.

We weren’t very surprised by this result. We had made similar observations earlier this year.

Could It Be the Weather?

The Delaware County Daily Times reprinted a story from the PA Independent (the state news service started by the Commonwealth Foundation) which mistakenly blames unions for the out-migration of taxpayers in the state.

Here is the claim:

The Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C., tax policy nonprofit, tracks tax returns filed in every state to determine how shifts in population affect working by tracking the Social Security numbers of income tax returns filed with the IRS each year.

Between 1999 and 2008, Pennsylvania saw an overall decline of 84,000 tax returns. The top three destinations for people leaving Pennsylvania during that time — Florida, Virginia and North Carolina — are all right to work states. The data is the most recent available.

There are a couple of problems with this rationale.

Building a Competitive Insurance Marketplace in PA

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So have you ever used Travelocity to book a flight? Or the Consumer Reports web site to research a new car?

Then you probably know the value of comparative shopping. I, for one, never book a flight before comparing just about every option and airline. What is the cheapest day of the week to fly, which airline offers nonstop flights, how long will I be in the air?

As Antoinette Kraus of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) wrote in an op-ed last week:

Sites like Travelocity have made air travel, car rentals and hotel bookings more convenient, competitive and affordable.

The same can't be said for health insurance, but that's about to change. The federal Affordable Care Act calls for the creation of competitive health-insurance marketplaces by 2014 to provide individuals and small businesses with a place to buy high-quality, affordable health coverage.

Third and State This Week: The Standard and Poor's Downgrade, Public Job Losses, and Energy Investment Bankers and the Marcellus Shale

Programming Note: Third and State will be taking the week of August 15 off. See you back here on August 22.

This week at Third and State, we blogged about the Standard and Poor's downgrade, doubts raised by energy investment bankers about a Marcellus Shale economic impact study, public employment job losses and more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On the economy, Mark Price blogged about the Standard and Poor's downgrade and the other "decidedly grim" economic news of the past couple weeks.
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Michael Wood wrote about doubts being cast by energy investment bankers on the findings in the Marcellus Shale Coalition's recent economic impact study. And, reacting to a recent Bloomberg News story, Mark Price reminded us that 72,000 new hires in the Marcellus industries is not the same as new jobs created.
  • Finally, Chris Lilienthal shared a graphic from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities highlighting the loss of 611,000 jobs in state and local governments during and after the Great Recession.

See you on August 22, 2011. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Bloomberg Reports Pennsylvania Created 2.8 Million Jobs. Say What?

Here is the actual Bloomberg News quote:

In Pennsylvania, natural gas and related industries have created 72,000 jobs, 3,143 well permits and more than $1 billion in tax revenue since 2009, the trade associations said.

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