Missed Opportunities Result in Rising Unemployment
Harrisburg, March 19, 2013 — Employment numbers released by Pennsylvania labor officials this week show the state continuing to move in the wrong direction while falling far behind surrounding states in job creation, two leading state senators said today.
“The unemployment rate is still rising in Pennsylvania while the rest of the nation is recovering from the recession,” said state Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione, Democratic chair of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee. “It’s stunning that the governor continues to prioritize cutting family-sustaining jobs with more than a half-million people still out of work.”
January’s unemployment rate – up to 8.2 percent from 7.9 percent in December – is Pennsylvania’s highest rate in more than two years, while unemployment has fallen 1.4 points in the rest of the country.
“We’re moving in the wrong direction and the administration is even more determined to cut jobs and give breaks to corporations making record profit,” said Sen. Vincent J. Hughes, Democratic chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “The proof is in the numbers. The U.S. economy is moving forward and Pennsylvania workers are being left behind. We need a shift in focus or we’re going to be the national example of how to ignore opportunity.”
Before the most recent figures were released, Pennsylvania had fallen from the top ten to a dismal 34th among states in job creation, Tartaglione said. The disappointing January revisions drop the state to 43rd.
“The governor’s preoccupation with gas drilling to cover for a lack of imaginative investment in job creation and training has failed Pennsylvania workers, small businesses and struggling communities,” she said. “After two years of sliding, Pennsylvanians are angry and impatient at the governor’s misplaced priorities.”
Over the past year, New Jersey saw employment grow by 66,000, while New York created 110,000 new jobs, Hughes said. Pennsylvanians saw only 35,000 new jobs over the past year, as new entries into the labor pool outpaced opportunity.
“Young people coming out of college with enormous debt won’t have much choice but to give up on this administration and look for work in states that can provide jobs,” Hughes said. “We’ve heard over and over that we’re cutting corporate taxes to compete for jobs and, two years in, we’re in a competitive free fall. We have to change course if Pennsylvania families are ever going to see the end of the recession.”
Tartaglione and Hughes have each sponsored portions of a plan they said would create 80,000 new jobs.
The plan, called “PA Works” would make use of state resources, leverage private resources and make critical long term capital investments that would create new opportunities for future growth and development.
“We could create thousands of new jobs by simply adopting the recommendations of the transportation funding advisory commission,” Hughes said. “Next month it will be two years since the commission was named and we have nothing to show for it but a dusty report.
“There is also an opportunity to draw down $43 billion in federal funds to expand Medicaid, provide health insurance to low-income workers, and create 41,000 jobs. It’s been one missed opportunity after another.”
Tartaglione said the administration’s preoccupation with awkward attempts to sell the successful Pennsylvania Lottery to Britain-based Camelot Global Services while forcing a massive expansion of liquor licenses, will kill jobs at a time when policy should favor job preservation and creation.
“The governor has distracted himself with selling off the lottery to a foreign company and gutting thousands of good jobs from a profitable liquor system,” Tartaglione said. “Looking back at teacher layoffs forced by education cuts and we’re seeing a deliberate strategy to cut jobs, not create them. After two years of it, the result is clear.”