If Energy Investment Bankers Have Doubts, So Should We

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More doubt is being cast on the Marcellus Shale Coalition's recent economic impact study. This time, by the energy investment banking firm Parks Paton Hoepfl Brown.

In a recent article published by the online oil and gas publication Rig Zone, G. Allen Brooks, the firm's managing director, points out a number of issues in the report that seem to exaggerate the economic promise of the Marcellus Shale.

Public Employment Job Losses a Drag on Economy

Add this to the list of reasons that the economic recovery is limping along. Our friends at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explain:

July’s employment report included more bad news from states and localities:  job losses are continuing. Since August 2008, state and local governments have slashed 611,000 positions, and the cuts have been getting worse — 340,000 of those jobs were lost in the last 12 months. July was the ninth consecutive month, and the 29th out of the last 35, in which total state and local employment shrank.

  Three Years of State and Local Job Losses  

The Standard and Poor's Downgrade

The economic news of the past two weeks has been decidedly grim.

On July 29, new data confirmed that the economy in the first half of 2011 grew much more slowly than necessary to bring down the unemployment rate.

A few days later, the bizarre debt-ceiling fight was resolved with agreement to cut nominal federal spending over the next two years. Economic forecasts prior to this deal put the U.S. unemployment rate at 8% at the end of 2012. Cuts to federal spending mean higher unemployment forecasts are on the way.

By the way, this morning the forecasters at Goldman Sachs increased their unemployment forecast for the end of 2012 to 9.25% — and that assumes Congress will agree to extend the current payroll tax credit before January.

Unless you are living off the grid, you couldn’t have escaped news that last week was brutal for the Stock Market. Then late in the day Friday, credit rating agency Standard and Poor's — after correcting a $2 trillion math error — decided to go ahead and downgrade the full faith and credit of the U.S. taxpayer from AAA to AA+.

So what should we do? To restore confidence in the United States' ability to pay its bills, Congress should take steps now to build a stronger economy, not weaken it as we did with the debt limit deal.

The chief problem in the world economy is both the U.S. and Europe have taken steps to slow rather than boost economic growth. This will have a major impact on the U.S.'s ability to pay down long-term debt.

Unless Congress takes immediate action to create jobs, we face the rising risk that the economy will continue to grow more slowly.

Is that decidedly grim enough for you?

Third and State This Week: Jobs and the Marcellus Shale, Personal Incomes and the Myth of Tax Flight

This week, we blogged about the myth of tax flight, Marcellus Shale drilling and the state economy, and the increasing share of Americans drawing income from public programs like Social Security and unemployment compensation.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On the federal budget and the economy, Emma Lowenberg wrote that more Americans are drawing income from government programs like Social Security and unemployment benefits. While some of this change can be attributed to naturally aging populations, much is undoubtedly the result of higher unemployment rates.
  • On the state budget, Chris Lilienthal highlighted a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities busting the common myth that if you increase state taxes (or don't cut them), people will up and leave for lower tax states.
  • Finally, on the Marcellus Shale, Mark Price blogged that while oil and gas extraction is helping to reduce unemployment in Pennsylvania, it remains an open question precisely how big the impact is, given how small employment in that sector is relative to an economy that employs 5.8 million people.

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

Tax Flight Is a Myth, Report Finds

We’ve heard it before. If you increase state taxes, people will up and leave for lower tax states — especially the most affluent residents. You often hear the same argument used to support tax cuts.

A compelling new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities busts this common myth advanced by those who oppose a balanced approach to budgeting and tax policy. Turns out Americans move from state to state for a variety of reasons, but tax levels rarely factor in.

Marcellus Shale, Unemployment and Industrial Diversity

Capitolwire has a recent story (paywall) about the impact of the Marcellus Shale on Pennsylvania's unemployment rate. There is no question that oil and gas extraction is creating jobs in Pennsylvania and thus helping reduce unemployment. But it remains an open question precisely how big the impact is given how small employment in that sector is relative to an economy that employs 5.8 million people.

More Americans Drawing Income from Unemployment, Social Security

Emma Lowenberg, InternBy Emma Lowenberg, Intern

The fact that the economy is still struggling is not news to anyone. The national unemployment rate has increased steadily since February. Now, at 9.2%, it is not too far from its peak of 9.9% in December 2009.

Nationally, the personal income of 20% of Americans comes from the government through programs like Social Security and unemployment benefits, according to a report in The New York Times. The percentage is even higher in the economically worst-off states – like Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and Arizona.

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.

A Manufactured Crisis

I was asked this week to pen an op-ed for FoxNews.com (seriously) about the looming crisis surrounding the debt ceiling debate in Washington. Check it out.

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