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Labor Report

PA Employment

Pennsylvania’s rate of unemployment ticked down in December to its lowest level in nearly eight years: 4.8 percent.

employmentBut better than that low number is this: the state’s labor force increased by 63,400 workers since this time last year, since this time last year, Pennsylvania has added more than 40,000 new jobs, and that growth rate puts us 38th out of 50 states or significantly better than it was under Gov. Tom Corbett (48 out of 50).

The state’s improvement in its employment ranks was good news in Western PA, even though season workers are being hit hard by changes in who is allowed to collect unemployment benefits. This is another issue I am working to bridge in the General Assembly.

While lower than before, Cameron (6.7 percent), Fayette (6.6), and Potter (6.5) went 1-2-3 in the highest county unemployment rates. Philadelphia County is at 6.1 percent.

Construction and manufacturing businesses are not, generally, enjoying the same hiring rate, as the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.

It will be interesting to see how Pennsylvania is impacted by the poor economic start to 2016 nationally and globally.

The feds will release its joblessness report on Friday. Analysts are expecting little to no change in the country’s 5.0 percent unemployment rate.

If you or someone you know needs a job, Overdrive is reporting that truck drivers are in high demand. It’s also reporting the labor shortage is either overblown or incorrect.

“But a perhaps more traditional definition describes not supply/demand imbalances at current market prices but a shortage of manpower to do the job at any price. This might be seen during mass mobilizations during wartime, or in an industry needing workers with a rare technical skill. This kind of labor problem can be implied in driver shortage stories that suggest a disruption to the supply chain that consumers will see and feel.”

Minimum Wage Tug-O-War

Minimum WageIt would be great to report movement on my proposals to increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage and its tipped minimum wage. The only thing I can share is: we’re still working to make that happen in Harrisburg.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown backed off her push to up her state’s minimum to $15.52 for Portland workers and $13.50 for everyone else. Criticism is one reason Gov. Brown backed off the proposal; somewhat irrational threats of job loss was the other.

Increasing the minimum wage to more than the federal base (and Pennsylvania base) of $7.25 an hour would be too much, the agriculture industry’s “Capital Press” has reported.

Work Requirements for Food Stamps

Grocery CartThe return of a better economy has forced state and federal governments to change the work rules for those needing food stamps to help make ends meet. That’s not a good thing, sometimes.

Stateline recently reported that people are losing their food stamps/SNAP benefits because of the change.

“With 22 new states (including Pennsylvania) reinstating the requirements as of Jan. 1, another 500,000 or more people could find themselves in her situation by spring,” Jen Fifield reported.

What’s tragic is this: “They are poor, with an average household income of about $3,768 a year. And they are uneducated — one in four didn’t graduate high school, and two in four only earned a high school diploma, according to a January report by the CBPP.”

Labor Corner

No commentary here, just some minimum wage and labor-related news from recent weeks that I wanted to share:

AFSCME: Workers Stand Up To Supreme Court Threat

Governor Wolf waives background check fees required by the Child Protective Services Law for volunteers and reduced the cost of clearances for employment purposes from $10 to $8

Immigration News: Human, Labor Violations Fueling Central Americans' Migration to US

The Sharing Economy Is Labor's Next Hope