Saturday, August 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

PA jobs update

Here's the delayed (by the government shutdown) update on details of PA jobs numbers.

PA jobs update

The latest U.S. Labor Department details on job gains by state -- and by that I mean accounts of net jobs that always follow new unemployment rates -- were delayed for some time due to the government shutdown in October.

But now the details are available and, therefore, so is my promised tracking of PA net jobs since Gov. Corbett took office.

Those familiar with this tracking will recall that what I provide is the Labor Department's total, non-farm, seasonally-adjusted net-job gain since January 2011.

This number varies greatly from Corbett administration and Corbett campaign numbers since both report only "private-sector" job gains (not government jobs) using the argument that it is private-sector jobs that drive the economy.

I argue all jobs pay taxes and lead to consumption and therefore are a better, fairer measure of a state's job market. And Wharton School experts say the best measure of jobs is new net jobs over time.

And that's where things get sticky.

The Corbett campaign says "over 141,000 private-sector jobs created." The state Department of Labor & Industry says 142,700 new private-sector jobs since January 2011.

But the latest net job gain during the same period, according to U.S. Labor Department data, is 98,600.

Which isn't bad. Unless you look at other states.

Among the 12 largest states (PA is sixth largest), all created more jobs than PA (most far more) during the period in question. This includes states such as New Jersey (129,300 new jobs), Michigan (191,000) and Illinois (177,200) that have higher unemployment rates.

PA's current unemployment rate of 7.5 percent is lower than seven of the 12 largest states, higher than three (Florida, Texas and Virginia) and the same as one (Ohio).

But the 98,600 net jobs is lower than states larger than PA (CA, Tex, NY, Florida and Illinois) and lower than states smaller than PA (Ohio, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, NJ and Virginia).

And the states closest in size to PA? Net jobs gain in 4th largest Florida is 388,600; in 5th largest Illinois, 177,200; in 7th largest Ohio, 142,900; and in 8th largest Georigia, 205,000.

So when it comes to job numbers, just remember -- the numbers depend on which numbers are counted.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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