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So Much for Positive Unemployment News

While Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate has been improving over the past year as more workers have been finding jobs, that progress slowed last month, according to the state Department of Labor & Industry.

jobsPA’s jobless rate ticked up one-tenth of one percent to 5.7 percent.

A one-tenth increase shouldn’t ring alarm bells. However, it’s what is lurking behind the number, once again, that has me concerned.

In people terms, 3,500 new workers found themselves amongst the ranks of the unemployed. As of July, 360,678 Pennsylvania women and men are without jobs.

Compared to the progress achieved nationally and among neighboring states, Pennsylvania is not doing as well. Since January 2011, the national unemployment rate has declined by 2.9 percent while PA’s rate has turned down by 2.4 percent.

PA’s labor force also shrank by 32,100 individuals from June to July, pushing the total drop in the state’s labor force this year to 52,574 people. The commonwealth’s total labor force now is lower than it was when Gov. Corbett took office three years ago.

These are good numbers to remember when you hear him tout private sector job growth performance. The contraction of the labor force is not an encouraging sign for PA’s economy.

Speaking of private sector job growth – but in perspective – the July workforce report does indicate that the commonwealth has added 175,000 private jobs since 2011, which is dead last compared to our neighboring states.

As a percentage of net private employment growth, Pennsylvania’s 3.59 percent increase falls behind New York’s 6.68 percent increase (476,000 jobs), Delaware’s 6.12 percent jump (22,000 jobs), Ohio’s 5.71 percent hike (245,000 jobs), Maryland’s 4.18 percent boost (85,000 jobs), New Jersey’s 3.92 percent improvement (126,000 jobs), and West Virginia’s 3.75 percent slide up the private employment growth scale (22,400 jobs).

Pennsylvania is also dead last among neighboring states for total employment growth since 2011 at just 2.26 percent. Delaware is first at 5.37 percent.

Job-growth performance has been better for the commonwealth over the past year as PA has added 54,000 jobs, or 0.94 percent more. Delaware, New York and West Virginia enjoyed better percentage results; Maryland, Ohio and New Jersey reported lower percentage increases.

Illinois Showing PA Why Lottery Privatization is a Bad Idea

It cost too much money and took too much time for Gov. Corbett to decide in late December that he would end his pursuit of a controversial contract with Camelot Global Services to take over the management of the Pennsylvania Lottery.

Lottery ticketMany people, including me, believed the privatization wouldn’t work. Illinois is living proof of that.

Citing poor performance and deteriorating relations between the company and the Quinn administration, Gov. Pat Quinn has decided to end Illinois' private management deal with Northstar Lottery Group.

“Aside from all the bad blood building up between Illinois Lottery officials and Northstar on a variety of matters, the bigger problem that finally did in Northstar was its inability to reach the revenue goals it said it would when Quinn awarded the firm the private management contract in late 2010,” reporter Lewis Lazare wrote in the Chicago Business Journal.

If you remember, Camelot was promising nearly $35 billion in profits for the PA Lottery over 20 years at a time when the lottery was already enjoying record-breaking income.

Corbett and Camelot extended the expiration date eight times on the only bid the PA Lottery was to receive for taking control of the program’s daily operations. The governor also agreed to pay private consultants more than $3.5 million to shepherd the process.

Minimum Wage Progress

min wageAs detractors continue to roll out clichéd reasons why increasing the minimum wage is not a good idea, more places are taking action to up their base hourly rates.

Nebraska became the latest state to ask voters if it should increase the minimum wage. If they agree, workers in the Cornhusker State will see their rates move from $7.25 an hour to $9 an hour by 2016.

Alaska and South Dakota are the other states turning to voters to decide the issue.

Meanwhile, the issue appears to have become as politicized in San Diego as it is here.

San Diego’s city council, predominantly occupied by Democrats, voted this week to override Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s veto of a bill to increase its minimum to $11.50 an hour by 2017.

The reason for opposing this measure?  “The Chamber of Commerce contends the increase will hurt small businesses and possibly force businesses to lay off workers or leave San Diego,” the LA Times reported.

Made in America

With summer breezing by and fall quickly approaching, it’s time to prepare for Labor Day weekend. For your upcoming celebrations, remember to support the hard-working men and women in this country by purchasing union products that will make your holiday even more spectacular.

Here is a list of items for your last-hoorah outdoor festivities this Labor Day. Each of these goods is made by union members belonging to BCTGM, IBB, IUANPW, IUE-CWA, UAW and UFCW.


  • Weber
  • Thermador


  • Butterball burgers and franks
  • Wenzel’s sausage
  • Smithfield sausage
  • Oscar Meyer hot dogs
  • Boars Head hot dogs
  • Ball Park Franks
  • Hebrew National franks
  • Foster Farms fresh chicken
  • Hormel Red Franks
  • Nathan’s Ball Park hot dogs


  • Wonder brand
  • Alfred Nickles Bakery
  • Stroehmann
  • Arnold
  • Francisco


  • Heinz Ketchup
  • Open Pit
  • French’s
  • Gulden’s Mustard
  • Frank’s Red Hot
  • Vlasic brand pickles


  • Munchos
  • Funyuns
  • Rold Gold
  • Frito-Lay
  • Doritos
  • Chex Mixes
  • Lays
  • Sun Chips


  • American Lager
  • Camo Black Ice
  • Hamm’s
  • Miller beer
  • Shock Top
  • Budweiser
  • Iron City
  • Mad River
  • Michelob
  • Pennsylvania Style Lager, Light and Ice


  • Chateau Ste. Michelle
  • Columbia Crest
  • Saddle Mountain
  • Farron Ridge
  • Scheid Vineyards Inc.
  • Balletto
  • Charles Krug
  • C.K. Mondavi
  • C.R. Cellars
  • Gallo of Sonoma
  • Gallo Estate
  • Turning Leaf


  • Jim Beam
  • Bacardi Rum
  • Seagram’s
  • Captain Morgan
  • Fleishman’s
  • Margaritaville
  • Skol
  • Wild Turkey
  • Knob Creek


  • Welch’s Juices
  • Minute Maid
  • Hawaiian Punch
  • Mott’s
  • V8
  • Sprite
  • Mountain Dew
  • Pepsi, Diet Pepsi
  • Coke, Diet Coke