A Pre-Labor Day Look at the State of Working Pennsylvania

August 31, 2012


Public News Service

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Just before Labor Day, a new report indicates when it comes to earning power, the typical middle-class household in Pennsylvania isn't getting ahead – and may not even be getting by.

Mark Price, a labor economist with the Keystone Research Center, is a co-author of the State of Working Pennsylvania 2012.

"Pennsylvania has gone through really a 'lost decade,' where the typical family has less income today than they did in the year 2000."

A fundamental component of the problem, explains Price, is that when the economy is expanding and showing signs of growth, the benefits aren't trickling down from the top.

"Those at the very top, the top one-percent in Pennsylvania, they captured really 74 cents out of every dollar of income in 2010, and that's a really shocking number."

Adopting economic policies that have the best interest of the middle-class in mind, can, in short order, help cushion the blow of high unemployment and slow growth, he says.

"Things like investment in infrastructure, preventing state and local governments from laying off substantial numbers of teachers and first responders – those are the kinds of things in the short run that really, we need to be doing."

Price says the report answers the question of why many Pennsylvanians are spinning in their tracks. He says high unemployment in the state continues to lead to lower wages, as it did last year. He adds austerity measures at the federal and state levels have added to Pennsylvania's job shortage in the past year by nearly 75,000.