State’s economy, budget are at odds

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review question the Rendell administration’s glorious reviews of the state’s economy.

The size of the state’s economy grew about 20 percent from 1997 to 2006, but the state’s budget increased about 50 percent during the same time period, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers. …

During that same time period, as Pennsylvania’s relative economic growth ranked 47th among states, its population growth ranked 45th.

Of course the Rendell administration gives its typical defense:

“We’ve got the highest number of employed Pennsylvanians in state history. Our unemployment is lower than the national average. We have projected revenues in excess of spending in this fiscal year,” said Chuck Ardo, Rendell’s spokesman.

Of the three factors he mentions, no one would consider that state collecting more in taxes that it needed as a sign of a strong economy, rather that a sign of Pennsylvanians being overtaxed; and adding one additional job in a a year would lead to the “highest number of employed Pennsylvanians”, but doesn’t represent a strong economy.

Here is a chart on Pennsylvania’s unemployment figures over the past year. Note that depending on whether you look at seasonally adjusted or not seasonally adjusted (don’t ask me why they differ) – PA either has more unemployed persons and slightly fewer with jobs, or more unemployed and fewer employed than one year ago.

Finally, let me point out that Pennsylvania remains a “high outbound” state on the United Van Lines report on migration – i.e. far more people are moving out of PA than are moving in. Click here for the state-by-state data.