PMA Bulletin -- May 8, 2013

Tom Corbett: The More Jobs Governor

Gaining a political advantage by taking an opponent’s remark out of context dates back as far as politics itself. Even politics needs its limits though. Twisting Governor Corbett’s recent comments about how drug abuse narrows the field of qualified workers is beyond even the political pale. Drug abuse is a part of a bigger problem of insufficient training and lack of other rudimentary skills - that was the full context of the Governor’s remarks.   In truth, the reaction from the Governor’s opponents ridicules the very businesses that are creating jobs and focusing on workplace safety.

The Governor’s opponents said that his comments last week on a radio show effectively placed the blame for recent unemployment figures (we’ll get to that later) on a bunch a drug addled losers who can’t find work. Would he really say that? Would he even imply that? On the other hand, no one would question that drug use disqualifies a prospective worker because the vigilant need for workplace safety. The Governor knows this is a problem because he is in tune with what those in the field are telling him.  

“No doubt about it – this is 100 percent real. Drug abuse is just one of the issues we deal with in getting qualified workers for increasingly sophisticated jobs. Think about what happens on a plant floor and it’s apparent that there is no place for illicit drug use,” said PMA Executive Director, David N. Taylor. “I applaud Governor Corbett for bringing this discussion to the forefront. There are over 7,000 manufacturing jobs that remain unfilled because employers can’t find adequate applicants. Using drugs is one of the most preventable and reversible hindrances to employment there is.”

It’s no surprise that the attacks on the Governor are coming from those that are fighting losing battles. They are the same ones who want to keep a controlled liquor system; a prevailing wage system that arbitrarily adds millions in costs to taxpayer funded capital projects; expand Medicaid under Obamacare to the tune of $4 billion. They are the ones screaming that the Corbett Administration’s policies are killing jobs in Pennsylvania by citing March job creation numbers that show we dropped in state rankings.

However, that’s hardly the case. One major issue with the cited study compiled by Arizona State University is that it’s a snapshot in time rather than a rolling average. Comparing month-to-month employment numbers is a misleading indication of actual job creation, according to Scott Meckley, an analyst with the Department of Labor & Industry’s Center for Workforce Information and Analysis.

“The warm weather in March and February last year meant an early start to construction, road repair, even the golf courses opened early,” Meckley said. “That was unusual and it skews the numbers. This year we didn’t have that.” This statement is further evidenced by Ohio’s drop from 11th to 47th in job creation and West Virginia’s respective fall from 7th to 45th.

Additionally, Meckley said, “Other states have taken much more of a beating during the recession because of housing. So, with a slight improvement in the housing market they shoot right back up the list.”

Using a more accurate rolling statistical average, as opposed to periodic snapshots, Pennsylvania employment has grown substantially from the time Governor Corbett took office in 2011 to today. Pennsylvania added 84,000 non-farm, private sector jobs from January 2011-2012 and 56,000 jobs from January 2012-2013. The addition of 84,000 jobs was the most added in a single year since 2001.

Rather than looking at rankings, it’s most important to look at the number of jobs actually created. According to the same Arizona State University study, under the leadership of Governor Corbett, Pennsylvania has added more than 141,000 jobs since his inauguration. More specifically, 6,700 manufacturing jobs have been added. Opponents of Governor Corbett will point to Pennsylvania’s ranking in Governor Rendell’s 2010 ranking of 10th in job “growth”. However, in that same year, Pennsylvania lost more than 192,000 jobs – we just lost jobs less quickly than other states, largely due to the Marcellus Shale boom. According to the figures from this study, during Governor Rendell’s term, Pennsylvania yielded a net loss of over 30,000 private sector, non-farm jobs.

The Corbett administration claims they have created 110,000 private sector jobs, but the referenced study indicates even more. Either way, it’s safe to say that without a doubt, Tom Corbett is the more jobs governor. 

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