Establishing the “Facts” about Pennsylvania’s Economy

Chuck Ardo – spokesman for Gov. Rendell – has an op-ed in Sunday’s Patriot News about what a great success Gov. Rendell’s economic policy has been.  This taxpayer-funded propaganda criticizes unnamed “conservative characters” because they “confuse dogma with established fact.”  Amazingly, Ardo seems to ignore all established facts about Pennsylvania’s economy.

Ardo asserts, for instance, that Pennsylvania has more jobs now than when Rendell took office, as though every single new job is created by government, not the private sector.  He ignores the fact the Pennsylvania has lagged behind the rest of the nation in job, population, and income growth since Rendell took office (ranking 40th, 42nd, and 40th in those categories since 2002).  More importantly, states that spend the most on “economic development” (Pennsylvania ranks second) have slower economic growth than the rest of the U.S, whereas states with lower taxes outpace high tax states (again, PA is on the wrong end of the spectrum)
Ardo’s rhetoric can’t quite explain why residents keep “Movin’ Out” of Pennsylvania to other states.  Pennsylvania is the 4th highest “outbound” state, according to United Van Lines.  The Commonwealth lost 12,000 residents to other states last year, and 58,000 since 2000, according to the US Census.

Pennsylvania gets low marks from almost all independent rankings of the state’s economic competitiveness.  Forbes considers PA the 10th worst state to do business; the Beacon Hill Institute Ranks PA 39th, ALEC ranks the state 44th, and CEO Magazine ranks us 37th.

Most blatantly false is Ardo’s statement that “Pennsylvania [is]on stronger economic footing than any other large state in America.”  Isn’t Texas still considered a “large state”?  In 2008, Pennsylvania lost 77,000 jobs; Texas added 155,000, despite a national recession.  Since Rendell took office, Pennsylvania has added 109,000 jobs; Texas has added 1.03 millionover nine times as many.

Ardo is correct when he compares Pennsylvania positively to our neighbors, particularly New York and New Jersey, whose economies and state budgets are in bad shape.  Unfortunately, Rendell seeks to imitate the failed policies of these states, rather than those of thriving states.