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Labor Report

5.4 ... 5.4 ... 5.4 ... 5.4 ...

I’ll forgive you if you think of The Beatles’ “Revolution Number 9” when you read the headline for this story, but that, essentially, is what we have with Pennsylvania’s monthly unemployment report.Five

For the fourth consecutive month, the rate of joblessness in PA has been 5.4 percent (5 plus 4, after all, is 9). And the state is now 31st in the country for unemployment while four of our border states – Ohio (4.7 percent), Delaware (4.9), Maryland (5.1) and New York (5.2) – are currently doing better.

Our economic dissatisfaction continues, in other words, as most of the state struggles to rebound from the recession – even if 5.4 percent is much less than the 8.3 percent it was in 2011.

Compared to a year ago in August, Pennsylvania is only four-tenths of one percentage point better.

Compared to the national unemployment rate, the picture is not as good because the U.S. is at 5.1 percent.

Money, Money, Money, Money

The legendary college basketball coach John Wooden once said that people should “not let making a living prevent you from making a life.” After I share the following studies from, you’ll know it might definitely be time to focus on your life and not your wallet.

MoneyIn the first study, there were fewer Pennsylvanians living in poverty. In 2013, 13.7 percent of our population earned less than federal poverty floors and that rate improved to 13.6 percent in 2014.

However, 13.4 percent of Pennsylvania was living in poverty in 2010.

In the second study, Stateline found that the gap between Pennsylvania’s GDP, or gross domestic product, increased 11.1 percent between 2000 and 2013 while its median household income dropped 4.1 percent.

The gap between income and GDP growth in PA is now 15.2 percent.

This also means there are fewer middle income class households in PA: 49.3 percent in 2000 and 46.5 percent in 2013.

Which brings me to the minimum wage...

New York appears to be on the verge of making Pennsylvania look like a pauper state.

The Empire State’s governor, George Pataki, has announced that he will work to increase its minimum wage to $15. Meanwhile, Portland, Maine, has agreed to increase its base hourly rate to $10.10 starting Jan. 1.

Pennsylvania’s $7.25 minimum wage looks more and more like the object that is disappearing in your rearview mirror, and our frontline workers are the ones suffering.

So, that pinching you feel every week in your checking account? There are reasons for that. Hopefully, John Wooden was as right about life as he was about basketball.

Fighting for People with Disabilities

Twenty-five years ago, President Bush signed into law the Americans With Disabilities Act – and what a difference it has made in the lives of so many Pennsylvanians.

CapitolTo mark the silver anniversary, I won unanimous support last week on my resolution noting the importance of ADA’s approval.

Other organizations throughout the state are working to recognize people with disabilities – and to make sure they have the same opportunities for work as other Pennsylvanians.

The Governor's Cabinet for People with Disabilities last week announced the opening of registration for the Pennsylvania Disability Employment & Empowerment Summit, which will be held Oct. 27 in Pittsburgh and Nov. 13 in Lancaster.

Elsewhere, the Lebanon County Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities is looking to pay tribute to local employers who have gone above and beyond to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Details on this great project are available here.