Study Offers Post-Protest, Labor Day Look at Labor in PA
August 30, 2013 - Tom Joseph
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Fresh off this week's nationwide
protest by fast-food workers calling for higher wages, and with Labor
Day at hand, the Keystone Research Center is offering up a sobering look
at Pennsylvania's economic recovery.
The group's new "State of Working Pennsylvania" report examines the factors contributing to slowing job growth and falling wages.
Mark Price is Keystone's labor economist and the study's co-author.
"What we find, in fact, is that middle class wages are down, and really
for most workers in Pennsylvania wages have fallen in the past two
years," he says. "And we think that's a direct consequence of the fact
that unemployment remains so high, even though the recession ended long
Price says job growth alone speaks volumes. Between 2010 and 2011, after
the recession ended, Pennsylvania added 87,000 thousand new jobs,
nearly equal to the number of jobs added in the two-and-a-half years
Price says another contributor to the equation is 45,000 job losses in
the public sector in the past two-and-a-half years, including layoffs
that have accompanied massive cuts to Pennsylvania's education system.
"To put that number sort of in context, that's like closing down 20 to
25 large factories," he points out. "And we've done that in a period
when unemployment is up over 7 percent."
Price says what policymakers should do is support more investment in
education, realizing its role in driving future growth. He also sees
merit in the argument that minimum-wage workers need substantial raises.
"That certainly would be one way to put more money in people's pockets
who are going to spend it and it will lead to more spending in the
economy, creating more opportunity for businesses to expand," he