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Labor Report

Disabilities Day

Good, qualified employees come in all shapes, sizes and abilities – and it’s why I will be working again tomorrow to remind people that this is so.

My annual Disabilities Day at the Capitol is tomorrow.

Access SymbolI hold Disabilities Day to help people with disabilities find gainful employment, and to help employers without those same disabilities better understand what it’s like to have them. It also serves a good purpose by educating employers about the things they can do to help workers with disabilities be as productive as they expect.

Personal experiences can also have a bigger impact on our decision makers, and participants will get to experience blindness or wheelchair mobility by using vision-distorting glasses or using a wheelchair.

People with disabilities face real challenges many times a day, all of the time. Experiencing what they experience helps us as a commonwealth improve services and be more thoughtful when budgeting decisions need to be made.

PA Unemployment "Improves"

The number that represents Pennsylvania’s count of unemployed workers shrunk in September, but the new 5.3 percent jobless gage shouldn’t inspire you to dance in celebration.

Fact is: the commonwealth’s civilian labor force also shed 7,000 workers, according to the Department of Labor & Industry, and this naturally means more people have stopped looking for work and are no longer being counted.

UnemploymentKentucky and other states are experiencing the same thing with the decline of their labor forces, and they’ve been suffering this cruel reality of the new economy for years.

Baby Boomer retirement is one explanation for the shrinking ranks of workers, and so is the fact that workers are going back to school to learn new skills. The painful reality is that most state unemployment rates are not reflecting these truths – and not everyone believes retirement and new schooling is impacting joblessness numbers.

“These would presumably not be people who are reaching retirement age,” said Kentucky State Data Center Director Matthew Ruther. “In the context of our labor force participation rate, it’s certainly a bad thing. Because we have this group of people who aren’t working and presumably suffering because of that.”

It doesn’t really matter that the Kentucky State Data Center is saying this; PA’s Data Center would say the same thing.

Minimum Wage Fight

The constant push to increase the minimum wage in Pennsylvania is very much like the growing chasm between the Haves and the Haves Not. You might even argue it’s why Republican lawmakers in Harrisburg want to keep the Haves Not from getting any new economic crumbs.

DollarBut as we fail to even consider one proposal to increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10, there is a move by supporters in Ohio to up the Buckeye base hourly rate.

“Stand Up Ohio” has petitioned that state’s attorney general with a proposed constitutional amendment to increase Ohio’s minimum wage to $10 by 2017, followed by 50-cents increases until 2021 and then CPI adjustments. Ohio’s tipped minimum wage would also be gradually eliminated.

Ohio already requires employers to pay frontline workers $8.10 an hour.

There are many cold hearts in Pennsylvania who do not want state lawmakers to increase the minimum wage, citing trite and faulty reasons that have been disproved throughout the history of the minimum wage.

USA Today is doing a series now on people who are struggling – and failing – to survive on minimum wage, no matter where they live. CLICK HERE to read it.