Report says Pa. workers suffered 'lost decade'

August 29, 2012

Central Penn Business Journal

Years of policy choices “unfriendly to working families” have prevented average Pennsylvanians from sharing in the state's economic growth, the Keystone Research Center said in a report released this morning.

Median income for a four-person family in the state declined 8 percent between 2000 and 2010, the center said in “The State of Working Pennsylvania.” The center, a left-leaning nonprofit think tank, releases the report annually a few days before the Labor Day weekend.

That decline came despite growth in state GDP, because most gains went to a small minority, the report said. Fifty-four percent of the state’s income growth between 2002 and 2007 flowed to the top 1 percent of earners, as did 76 percent of economic growth in 2010, it said.

Austerity measures have cost Pennsylvania an estimated 74,000 jobs in the past year, it said.

“Policymakers are hitting the economic brakes when they should be hitting the accelerator,” said study co-author Stephen Herzenberg, an economist and executive director of the Keystone Research Center. “Policymakers are also tilting the rewards of economic growth to the top.”

The study called for national and state policies that focus on infrastructure investment, shared prosperity and greater economic equality.