To repeat one more time, the gas development boom by itself cannot bring prosperity to all of Pennsylvania.
The July jobs report was one more piece of proof for this fact and was ugly reading for Pennsylvanians.
Pennsylvania lost jobs again in July, even as 163,000 new jobs were created nationally. July was the fourth month in a row that Pennsylvania has lost jobs. Unemployment increased 0.3% to 7.9%. Why is Pennsylvania losing jobs becomes the question?
Since March, America has created jobs every month and a total of 547,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. www.bls.gov. But since March, Pennsylvania has lost jobs every month, losing a total of 19,100 jobs.
The stark fact is that Pennsylvania is losing jobs, even as the national economy increases them. Pennsylvania's jobs troubles are not caused by the national economy that is creating jobs every month.
And the Commonwealth's poor performance matters to the national economy. If Pennsylvania had created 22,000 jobs, instead of losing 19,100 jobs since March, America would have nearly 600,000 more jobs as of the end of July.
Pennsylvania's economy is big and diverse with health care, education, agriculture, manufacturing, and energy among its leaders. State budget and policy decisions impacts this diverse economy and especially the huge sectors of health care and education.
As a result of choices made in state budgets, tens of thousands of jobs have been lost in education alone, and each lost jobs there ripples through the economy, destroying more jobs in sectors like restaurants, recreation, and retail. Pennsylvania has failed to address transportation funding, and that has meant transportation investments--big jobs producer--is lagging. Programs to spur investment in water and sewer infrastructure, clean energy, and environmental remediation have not been renewed. All that adds up and explains why Pennsylvania is losing jobs, even as America creates hundreds of thousands.
Moreover, Pennsylvania must have an economic development strategy that builds on gas development but does not rely on it to create prosperity for the whole state. Right now, Pennsylvania does not have such an economic development vision and plan.
Pennsylvania must have policies that encourage energy development--not simply gas development. Energy efficiency, wind, solar, hydro, biomass, nuclear uprates, biodiesel, carbon capture projects, and alternative transportation fueling stations are all big opportunities to create jobs and improve our environment.
Pennsylvania was a leader in creating jobs in 2010 and now is a leader in losing jobs. We were doing much better and can do better again if we make smart investments and decisions.