Recent Job Growth in Pennsylvania is Healthier than in Most States

Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania has enjoyed better job growth during the fragile economic recovery than most states, according to a new policy brief from the Keystone Research Center.

In 2010, the Commonwealth added more than 65,000 jobs, ranking third among the 50 states in the number of jobs created. On a percentage basis (adjusting for the size of each state’s economy), Pennsylvania job growth still exceeded three-fourths of all states.

“Pennsylvania’s investments in local communities, energy, job training and education have reaped real rewards for our economy,” said Stephen Herzenberg, Ph.D., Economist and Executive Director of the Keystone Research Center. “We need to build on these policies to ensure Pennsylvania is poised for long-term economic success.”

National job numbers for January were also released today, showing weak job gains. The jobs report underscores the need for Pennsylvania to build on its recent job success.

Pennsylvania’s job growth performance has improved steadily compared to other states over the past 16 years. While Pennsylvania ranked 39th in job growth percentage since December 1994, the state’s rank moved up to 29th during the past eight years, and has ranked 14th — in the top third of states — during the last three years (since the start of the recession in December 2007).

Pennsylvania outperformed all neighboring states in job growth between December 2009 and December 2010, with a growth rate of 1.2% — followed by West Virginia at 1.1% and Maryland at 1%. No neighboring state came close to the number of new jobs created in Pennsylvania in 2010.

When job growth is adjusted for growth in the adult working-age population (16 and over), Pennsylvania ranked in the top 10 in 2010, since the recession began in December 2007 and since December 1994.

Pennsylvania’s recent job performance is particularly good compared to New Jersey, which finished dead last in the number change in jobs during 2010, losing nearly 31,000 jobs. On a percentage basis, New Jersey’s job performance ranked 49th in 2010, compared to Pennsylvania’s 12 th ranking.

“New Jersey should not be viewed as a model for Pennsylvania,” Dr. Herzenberg said. “Under Governor Christie, the state’s job performance has been abysmal, which reinforces our point that if you make deep cuts to public investments in education and infrastructure, the state’s economy will suffer and working families will pay the price.”

Instead, Dr. Herzenberg said, Pennsylvania should build on its solid job performance in recent years.

“Continued investments in skills development, renewable energy jobs and opportunities for the next generation are key to our economic health,” Dr. Herzenberg said. “That’s why policymakers should address Pennsylvania’s fiscal challenges with a balanced approach that includes new revenue in addition to savings and efficiencies.”

Click here to read the full policy brief.