PA's net jobs drop in July

Okay, kids, as promised, here are the jobs numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor for July.

These are state-by-state numbers than come out a week or so after the unemployment rates. They reflect net jobs, meaning all non-farm employment, seasonally adjusted, a good measure of total jobs tracked in each state.

I offer these on a monthly basis so you can avoid the spin of Democrats using only one part of the total survey to show estimated job loss and Republicans using only private-sector jobs to show job gain.

The state Department of Labor and Industry, for example, (as well as Gov. Corbett and his campaign) uses only private-sector data and says the state's economy added 4,000 jobs in July for a total of 131,100 such jobs since Corbett took office in January 2011.

But net jobs data from the U.S. Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Pennsylvania actually lost jobs (1,700) in July, as did New Jersey (11,800) and New York (7,300).

The same data shows Pennsylvania gained 86,600 net jobs since Corbett took office.

You can look at each state's new and past job numbers here.

Now the caveats: 1,700 lost jobs in a state with 5.7 million-plus jobs isn't statistically significant (unless, of course, one of those jobs is yours), which is why the state's unemployment remains at 7.5 percent, just a tick above the national average, better than Jersey's (8.6 percent) and the same as New York's.

Also, there are those who argue that private-sector jobs are the only jobs worth counting because that's what moves the economy. I argue that all jobs are worth counting since all jobs pay taxes and better reflect the true job market, unless you don't want teachers, firefighters, cops, etc., employed.

Finally, as I've noted in past monthly reports, Pennsylvania overall net jobs numbers are lousy compared to every one of the nation's 15 largest states, except Virginia. That commonweath has added just 9,800 jobs since January 2011. But then Virginia's unemployment rate is just 5.7 percent.

Every one of the other large states -- California, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Arizona, Washington and Ohio -- added more jobs since January 2011 than Pennsylvania. And, in each case, many more.

Month-by-month data doesn't tell the whole story of a state's economy. But when tracked over multiple years and compared with other northeastern and similiarly-sized states it helps paint a pretty accurate picture of just how we're doing.