Pa.’s Economic Glass Half Full?

Will Bunch’s column in the Philadelphia Daily News last week takes a very negative view of Pennsylvania’s economic climate, based on the premise that the state unemployment rate is higher than the national average.   My single quote in the piece bears expanding upon, as recent data shows Pennsylvania’s labor force and the number of people employed is growing faster than the rest of the country.

The most recent state unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics—which showed Keystone State’s unemployment rate fell 0.3 percent last month—rank Pennsylvania among the nation’s employment leaders.  While the number of unemployed persons has risen over the past year, so has the number of persons employed.

More dramatic is Pennsylvania’s growth in labor force, defined as the number of people working or actively looking for work (“unemployed”).  While the labor force has been stagnant nationally, Pennsylvania’s labor force has been expanding.  In fact, the commonwealth nearly matched the other 49 states in labor force growth over the past year.

Either large numbers of disgruntled workers are deciding to reenter the labor force and look for jobs, or people are coming to Pennsylvania to find employment.  Perhaps we are doing something right after all.