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Labor Report

10 Days for $10.10

SignWhile the Republican-led General Assembly continues to drag its feet on its consideration of my bills to increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by next January, have you noticed that many other people across the country are now more loudly debating $15 an hour?

While $15 is probably too much for this body to consider right now for workers throughout the commonwealth, the GOP’s silence on the minimum wage in PA is an ugly divergence. However, they will be reminded of what needs to be done, beginning on Monday, June 8, when I kick-off the “10 Days for $10.10” campaign on the floor of the Senate.

Over the next 10 session days, I have asked members of the Senate Democratic Caucus to rise during petition and remonstrance time – P&Rs – to let Republicans know that our front line employees, who are earning the lowest wages, still need a raise, and that we are not going away.

My thanks to the Raise the Wage PA Coalition for participating in this important campaign.

May Unemployment Report

JobsSo much for the uncertainty caused by April’s national – and state – unemployment reports.

May’s joblessness story is sparking optimism among economists.

The U.S. Department of Labor said this morning that 280,000 new jobs were added to the rolls last month. Experts had predicted 58,000 fewer job gains.

Despite the performance, the U.S. unemployment rate ticked up to 5.5 percent … but that’s because more people apparently decided to re-start their job searches.

“The proportion of the working age population that is employed — which some economists consider a bellwether of how the economy is performing — rose to 59.4 percent. It is the highest point since the recovery began six years ago,” The New York Times reported today.

While Pennsylvania’s May joblessness report will not be out until later this month, analysts are applauding the new Wolf administration for an uptick in job growth.

“Since Gov. Wolf took office in January, the commonwealth has added 30,000 new jobs, ranking it 18th among all 50 states (and ahead of all its neighboring states). This comes as welcome news after the commonwealth ranked 48th in a similar survey at the end of Gov. Corbett’s term. What’s more, the growth of 30,000 new jobs since January translates to PA employment growth of 0.5 percent, which is above national growth of 0.4 percent over the same time frame,” said officials.

When comparing the unemployment rates of Pennsylvania’s worst-performing counties, there hasn’t been much change.

As of April 2015: (State rate - 5.3 percent)

  1. Forest County - 8.6 percent
  2. Philadelphia County - 7.5 percent
  3. Fayette County - 7.4 percent
  4. Clinton County - 7.3 percent
  5. Cameron County and Huntingdon County - 7.0 percent
  6. Somerset County - 6.9 percent
  7. Cambria County, Luzerne County, Tioga County - 6.8 percent
  8. Clearfield County and Monroe County - 6.7 percent
  9. Pike County, Potter County, Schuylkill County, Wyoming County, 6.5 percent, and
  10. Carbon County - 6.4 percent

Pew Trust looked at regional unemployment rates recently and the Philadelphia Inquirer picked up the story by noting that the Philadelphia metro area’s rebound from the recession has been less than impressive; but not enough to ring alarms.

“Of the nation's 50 top metropolitan regions, Philadelphia ranked 47th, with 4.7 percent increase in jobs since the darkest days of the recession,” reporter Jane Von Bergen wrote. “At the top, San Jose, Calif., grew 23.7 percent, followed by Austin, Texas, at 22.6 percent, and Nashville at 19.3 percent. Detroit grew 13.1 percent.

“The reason Detroit looks so good and this region does not is that the Philadelphia area did not fall as far. In recovery, it did not have as much to gain, and what it did gain looks less dramatic,” she explained.

patfWhy I support PAFT

It’s important for people to be employed in good jobs. It’s important for a community’s well being that its citizens feel like they are contributing. But there are many good people who need help getting to work, and all of this is why I voiced my support this week for the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation.

PATF provides low-interest loans to people with disabilities. Since its founding in 2002, the group has approved more than 2,500 lines of credit totaling more than $33 million. More than 200 people were approved for more than $1.3 million in loans in 2014.

I know how important the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation is because I was partially paralyzed in a 2003 boating accident.

I know what a chair rail is. I know how important that lift is to give me that independence to help me get outside of my home. My freedom is something I could never fathom to lose, and I can’t imagine how good employees would do it if PATF wasn’t around to help them.