While America's annual average unemployment rate fell by 0.8 percentage points in 2012 compared to 2011, and while this key jobs statistic improved in 46 states during 2012, New York and Pennsylvania did not share in improving times. Instead, New York and Pennsylvania were among just 4 states, where the unemployment rate did not improve over the course of 2012. What explains their bad performance?
In Pennsylvania, shale gas drilling has been generating wealth for landowners and about 100,000 direct and indirect jobs since 2007. By contrast, New York has a moratorium on shale gas drilling for now nearly 5 years.
The experience of Pennsylvania and New York that have both done poorly over the last two years, one with shale gas drilling and one without, even as the nation's unemployment rate declined significantly, reminds that gas drilling alone is not going to make or break their economies. In truth, no single industry by itself is, not even health care which dwarfs gas drilling.
Both New York and Pennsylvania have large populations that need many millions of jobs to be at full employment and that need strong performance from manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, transportation, education, and health care. In fact, Pennsylvania needs 6.5 million jobs. To reach that number, the 100,000 direct and indirect jobs from gas drilling helps and are vital to everyone of the people with one of those jobs.
But gas drilling alone has not brought prosperity to all Pennsylvanians and cannot. That is a lesson that Governor Corbett still does not understand. Indeed, he has put all his economic development eggs in the gas basket, while destroying jobs, by hostility or neglect, in education, transportation, health care, wind, solar, energy efficiency, and other industries. The end result of those mistakes is Pennsylvania, despite the gas boom and a falling national unemployment rate, is among the 4 worst performing economies in the nation.