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PA Employment Fact Check

unemploymentThe Corbett administration has been pinging Pennsylvania’s lower unemployment rate as some kind of proof that it has been getting people back to work, but new numbers from the Department of Labor & Industry indicate one of the reasons for this drop is fewer employees.

According to L&I’s Center for Workforce Information & Analysis, Pennsylvania’s seasonally adjusted employment from February 2013 to February 2014 dropped by 43,000 workers.

Susquehanna County suffered the largest percentage of employment loss, 4.7 percent, as 1,100 residents fell out of the employment ranks. The next five county employment losers were:

          2) Adams – 3.3 percent and 1,700 jobs
          3) Montour – 3 percent and 300 jobs
          4) Cumberland – 2.8 percent and 3,200 jobs
          5) Dauphin – 2.7 percent and 3,500 jobs
          6) Mifflin – 2.7 percent and 500 jobs

Two of Pennsylvania’s largest county employment centers – Philadelphia and Allegheny – shed 12,200 (Philadelphia) and 6,700 (Allegheny) workers from their employed totals for that one-year period.

Minimum Wage Update

moneyAnother step forward on legislation to increase the poverty-level minimum wage. Unfortunately, the news comes from another of Pennsylvania’s neighbors: Maryland.

While it still has an uncertain future, the land of crabs and Old Bay seasoning moved a bill out of committee this week to increase its minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2018, “freeze” the tipped base hourly rate at $3.63 and implement a training wage that would be 15 percent below minimum for the first six months of employment for workers up to 19 years old.

At least Maryland’s elected officials are talking and negotiating.

Tipped Minimum’s Bronx Reality

The theory behind paying waiters and waitresses a tipped minimum wage that is much less than the regular minimum wage is that the tips collected are to, at least, average that regular base rate. If it does not do that, the employer is supposed to pay the difference to ensure that their tipped employees collect that measly $7.25 wage.

But this is hard to enforce, unless tipped employees band together and fight it.

serverIn New York, a group of workers who cover private banquets at Yankee baseball games launched a class action suit claiming their employer has been wrongfully distributing the tips they earned.

Not only has Legends Hospitality LLC been wrongfully holding onto service charges for wait staff, the company, according to the workers, has been doling out wait staff tips to supervisors.

Fortunately for the workers, a New York appeals court decided this week that their case should not have been dismissed by a lower court.

I have proposed legislation to incrementally increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2016. I have also introduced a bill to make PA’s tipped minimum at least 70 percent of the regular minimum.

Besides ordering employers to pay a more family sustaining wage, my legislation would increase minimum wage enforcement and oversight and levy steeper fines and penalties for companies that skirt the law. While Yankee Stadium, obviously, is not in Pennsylvania, it is a very real example of how some companies work to keep even the smallest percentage of wages from the people who earned them and deserve to receive them.

Even President Obama knows this.

Corbett Administration Supports Liquor Stores

Sure, the Corbett administration still wants to sell off the state’s very profitable state liquor stores but it might have provided its own answer as to why that would be a bad idea this week when it released another dismal revenue collection press release.

liquor store“While March tax collections appear to be only $20 million short of estimate for the month and $96 million short, fiscal-year-to-date, an early transfer of $80 million in liquor store profits to facilitate cash flow disguises the fiscal reality,” said Secretary of Revenue Dan Meuser in his April 1 press release.  “Considering the timing issue behind the liquor store profits, we’re really abou​t $100 million short for the month and $176 million under for the fiscal year.”

What does this commonwealth do if it sells the liquor stores and it no longer is able to use its profits to bail out its financial problems?

While Meuser deserves credit for being honest, I have to wonder if either he or anyone in the administration is actually listening to what is coming out of his – or anyone’s – mouth.

It’s bad enough that we’re going to finish the fiscal year in the red. It’s worse when reason is articulated as a solution to a problem but isn’t even recognized when it comes time to serving the needs of the people who voted to send us to Harrisburg.

The only things keeping the commonwealth afloat fiscally are those who are work and dying. Personal income tax revenue was $30 million higher than expected but still $70 million below estimate. The inheritance tax generated $6.4 million more than anticipated in March. Guess you could say we are working ourselves to death.

This is another sad commentary for the middle class.

Made in PA

What is sticky on one side and can be found on nearly every consumer product on the market?  You guessed correctly—a label!

While many people consider them a mere marketing feature, labels actually serve a variety of purposes, such as providing consumers with important product information and allowing products to be identified for tracking, sorting and categorization.

In Pennsylvania, when it comes to designing, manufacturing and applying labels, one company that has been an expert in the business for more than a century is McCourt Label, located in the borough of Lewis Run. 

McCourt LabelIn 1896, McCourt Label started manufacturing label cabinets and labels, mainly for the pharmaceutical industry. Since then, the company’s services expanded with the purchase of equipment that allowed the labels to be applied to products using pressure-sensitive technology. 

Today, through its well-trained, customer-service oriented employees belonging to Graphic Communications International Union, Local 330C, McCourt Label provides label services for a growing customer base that currently includes companies across the U.S. in eight industries. 

McCourt Label has retained its role as a strong, competitive company thanks to the innovativeness and forward-thinking of Newton McCourt, company founder, and the financial know-how of Herbert H. Black, company president.  For more information regarding the history of this company, or to use its label-related services for your business or organization, check out McCourt Labels.





McCourt Label