Good news, bad news in employment

An aerial view of the Tobyhanna Army Depot. (Photo from

As someone who covers unemployment, sometimes all I want to do is hang my head and sigh. What should be an uplifting day of news of positive job growth from the ADP pay roll processing company is offset by a report from a news outlet in Hazleton, detailing the effects of sequestration on the Tobyhanna Army depot.

Let's start with the good news. ADP, which tracks private sector employment, reports 198,000 new jobs in February. The jobs were spread across all sectors and even included more hiring in big firms with 1,000-plus employees. Construction was up, as was manufacturing.

Bucks County economist Joel Naroff had this to say: "I don’t want to keep beating a dumb politician (or politicians) but the only hurdle left to strong economic activity is the chaos in Washington.  The stock market is hitting new highs, the housing market is strengthening and if job gains are accelerating, there will be little doubt that the private sector is in pretty good shape.  Only the public sector doesn’t get it."

Naroff's comments provide a handy transition to the news from the Tobyhanna Army Depot, today's exhibit A concerning the chaos in Washington.

The depot is one of the Pocono region's largest employers with 5,136 civilians working there, reports staff writer David Falchek from the Standard Speaker. Those workers will face 22 days of unpaid furlough between April and September. That's four weeks and two days. Every week amounts to about a 2 percent wage cut. These workers will see an immediate eight percent plus cut in pay -- how will that affect their consumption? That region of the state is already struggling.

For that matter, even the good news from ADP isn't good enough. The rate of job growth has slowed. Sigh....