Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Those new PA job numbers

And now for a look at the monthly job numbers spun so hard by both parties.

Those new PA job numbers

Gov. Corbett.
Gov. Corbett.

So PA unemployment is up. But the PA job count is up, too.

Democrats blame Gov. Corbett for a rise in unemployment. The August rate is 7.7 percent, up two-tenths from July and higher than the national rate of 7.3 percent.

The state Democratic Party calls the rate, "a reminder of Tom Corbett's failed leadership and inability to create good, middle class jobs for the people of Pennsylvania."

But the Corbett administration says "total" jobs bumped up 11,300 to the highest "total" job county since October 2008.

"Pennsylvania has now added 141,300 private-sector jobs since the beginning of the Corbett Administration in 2011,” Julia Hearthway, secretary of the Department of Labor & Industry, said.

You'll notice two different counts: "total" jobs are all sectors, private and public; "private-sector" jobs are just that, not counting government workers such as teachers, firefighters, cops, etc.

So the whole picture is blurred by politics.

As I have done for months now, I offer a PA whole picture compared to other large states.

First the unemployment rate. Ours, though higher than the national average, is lower than half of the 15 largest states -- and higher than the other half.

For example, New Jersey is at 8.5 percent; California, 8.9 percent; Illinois, 9.2; Michigan, 9 percent.

But states with lower rates include Ohio at 7.3; Florida at 7; New York at 7.6; Texas at 6.4; Virginia at 5.8.

Now to jobs. The Corbett administration consistently talks only about private-sector jobs (unless it wants to make a point about total jobs bumping up in one month).

But when you look at total jobs since Corbett took office in January 2011 (and all this data is from the U.S. Labor Department), PA continues to look anemic among the 15 largest states.

While it's accurate to say the state's economy created 141,300 "private-sector" jobs, total net jobs created since January 2011 is 102,400. That's because of losses in the public sector.

Not a bad number unless you look at other states. Every other large state, except Virginia, created more jobs than PA, in many cases many more.

For example: Texas (734,900), Florida (313,400), Illinois (152,400), Michigan (187,200), New York (291,800), New Jersey (124,200) and Ohio (138,000).

So when pols talk jobs numbers, there are at least two different ways to count: total net jobs or private-sector-only jobs. The one you count clearly depends on your politics.

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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