PA Employment Picture Brightens in April

The statewide unemployment rate fell by three-tenths of a percentage point in April, to 7.6%.  Employment numbers climbed 13,000, while unemployment dipped by 17,000.  “April was a tremendous month for job growth and the state’s employment situation,” Secretary of Labor & Industry Julia Hearthway said in a statement released on Friday. “Pennsylvania has added 125,700 private sector jobs to the economy since Governor Corbett took office.” 

But a spokesman for the House Democrats, who are among the governor’s harshest critics, calls the growth anemic compared to the nearly half-million Pennsylvanians who are still looking for work.

Pennsylvania’s jobless rate remains at or above the national average for a ninth consecutive month.  The national unemployment rate now stands at 7.5%.

Behind the Numbers of the Jobs Debate

Statistics ultimately led to Governor Tom Corbett’s now-infamous drug test comments.  The launching point for the entire conversation on this month’s edition of “Ask the Governor” was a statistic ranking Pennsylvania 49th among states when it comes to job growth.

Democrats and other Corbett critics are harping on the figure, but the governor says there’s more to the story.  “There’s an old saying that Mark Twain said.  There’s three types of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics,” Corbett quipped early on in the “Ask the Governor” conversation. “It’s a matter of when you look at the number, at what point in time you look at the number.” 

But what about that job growth ranking as it stands today?  Corbett’s Labor & Industry Secretary Julia Hearthway tells Radio PA that it’s being taken out of context:HEARTHWAY

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Hanger says it’s a spin game the Corbett administration can’t win.  “I don’t think if you talk with most Pennsylvanians that they have found… that their job prospects have improved over the past year.” 

The longer Governor Corbett has been in office, Hanger says, the worse the jobs crisis gets.  “His best year was his first year, his worst year has been the last 12-months,” he says.  “We’ve literally, essentially, had no job growth with this governor in the last 12-months.  Zero.”    

The March jobs report from the Department of Labor & Industry includes two data sets.  The numbers used to calculate the 7.9% unemployment rate in March indicate a 0.5% year-to-year increase in employment.  The seasonally adjusted non-farm job numbers indicate regression to the tune of -0.1% from March 2012 – March 2013.

Pennsylvania Releases February Unemployment Report

Pennsylvania’s jobless rate ticked down in February.

It’s still half a point higher than it was a year ago and four-tenths above the national average, but the unemployment rate dipped one-tenth of a point last month to 8.1 percent.

Department of Labor and Industry secretary Julia Hearthway says the state continues to see job growth and a particularly positive sign is in the gain in manufacturing, which added 44 hundred jobs in February.

The state’s over the year growth was most pronounced in the private sector. The largest gains were in professional and business services and education and health services.

Nationally, the jobless rate stood at 7.7% in February.

Youth Employment is Low, PA Fares Better than Most

A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation pegs the nation’s teen employment rate at 26%.  Director of Economic Development & Integration Initiatives Patrice Cromwell tells Radio PA we haven’t seen numbers like this since the early 1950s.  “Just in the last ten years, it’s dropped by close to 50%,” she explains. “Back in 2000, one out of two teens was able to get a job; today that’s only one out of four.” 

She says youth employment is important because the data show that early work experience pays off later in life, so work experience is critical whether a young person is in or out of school.

The new KIDS COUNT report shows teen employment rates varying among states, from a low of 18% in California to a high of 46% in North Dakota.  Pennsylvania is among the top states with a teen (16-19-years old) employment rate of 39%. 

When the report looks young adults (20-24-years-old) Pennsylvania shows 62% employment, one percentage point higher than the national average.

Not Your Average Job Search Website

This new career tool, developed by the state Department of Labor and Industry, isn’t your average job search website.  PA Career Coach is designed to make sure Pennsylvanians are ready for the jobs that become available.  “First, it’s innovative.  Second, it’s common sense,” explains Governor Tom Corbett.  “We don’t always get that combination in state government… but we are working and striving hard to change that.”

Students, displaced workers and others who visit the new website will find out what jobs are in demand in their hometowns, what they can expect to earn and how to find specific training nearby.  Users can also link to current job postings. 

The new job search tool was announced at a news conference inside the Department of Labor and Industry building, where Governor Corbett said the state is growing new job markets like the Marcellus Shale.  “But what good is that growth if Pennsylvania workers don’t know how to break into those job markets?” he asked.  

PA Career Coach is bridging that gap.  Officials say it’s just part of a comprehensive job-matching initiative the Corbett administration will launch later this year. 

Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Julia Hearthway demonstrates the PA Career Coach website.

The statewide unemployment rate currently stands at 8.1%.  September’s numbers are scheduled to be released next week.