A look at job growth and labor force trends over the past few years reveals the Keystone State’s economy to be stagnant or, at best, overshadowed by robust growth in other states.
Pennsylvania’s sobering economic picture shouldn’t come as a surprise. The commonwealth consistently places in the bottom half of state rankings analyzing various economic variables and outcomes. For example, WalletHub published an analysis last month ranking Pennsylvania the 46th best state to find a job.
Historically, Pennsylvania tends to add (and lose) jobs at a slower pace than the rest of the nation. This is explained, in part, by the state’s economic composition and demographics. But public policy plays a significant role as well.
State government has grown in size and scope for decades. Taxes are higher. Over regulation is rampant, and Pennsylvania is spending more per family than ever before. Policy decisions—both past and present—have hurt working people and stifled economic progress. Upending this failed status quo demands a departure from unlimited government and towards economic freedom—the idea that people should be free to pursue a better life as long as they respect the rights of others.
Consistent with this idea are several worthwhile reforms lawmakers should consider:
- The Taxpayer Protection Act,
- Commonsense regulatory reforms to streamline bureaucracy,
- Work and community engagement requirements for Medicaid and food stamps,
- Comprehensive tax reform to reduce the state’s high tax burden, and
- Expansion of school choice.
If policymakers want to break Pennsylvania free of its long economic slump, and avoid the consequences of coming demographic changes, they need to give people a reason to live and work in Pennsylvania.