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Report Indicates State of Working Pennsylvania Isn't Working So Well


Tuesday, September 2, 2014   

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania isn't making the grade in terms of job growth and economic growth in a just-
released study from the Keystone Research Center.

The 2014 State of Working Pennsylvania report gives the state a D-minus for job growth. Dr. Mark Price, labor economist with the KRC, says cuts to education in recent years have played a major role in Pennsylvania's struggles.

"You're trying to recover from a deep recession, like the Great Recession," Price says. "And then right in the
middle of that recovery you get these waves of layoffs that end up being a drag on job growth; it was a drag on consumer spending and ultimately on economic growth."

The report also gave the state a B-minus for the drop in its unemployment rate since 2011, and
a D-plus for its dip in underemployment. Pennsylvania received a grade of C-minus for its change in
median-hourly earnings from 2010 to 2013.

Price says passage of the $2.3 billion transportation bill helped spur job growth in the first six months of the year, but he says the move could have, and should have come earlier as timing has been an issue in the state's efforts to gain economic traction.

"There have been a lot of policy missteps, from just deliberately bad things that were done," Price says. "Laying off public sector workers, but also delays that really hurt us because we could have had faster growth earlier."

Moving forward, Price says state lawmakers need to bear in mind policies, such as Medicaid expansion, that hold huge upsides for the economy.

"That is going to be a windfall for the state, and that's certainly going to boost job growth," says Price. "We
certainly would like to see more investment in infrastructure and focus on things like shale extraction and raising the tax so it's equal to what is charged in other states."

That, he says, is a good way to raise revenue.

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