June 5, 2000
Job Growth Statistics
In a recent issue of the online publication Salon,
the Ridge administration criticized Sen. Vincent Fumo for providing reporters
with annual statistics showing Pennsylvania’s job-growth ranking among the
The governor’s spokesman was quoted
decrying as excessively partisan the practice of releasing these figures. He
also said the administration is “amazed when people are willing to tear down
Pennsylvania,” to take a shot at the administration’s job growth record.
Although I assume that reporters have
will continue to appreciate someone providing them with accurate data about
job growth in Pennsylvania, I would like to explain that we are amazed that
they are amazed. Here’s why.
The administration should be quite
comfortable with the fact that these statistics have partisan implications.
During his campaign for governor and in the early years of his administration,
the current governor did not hesitate to cite what he characterized as the
poor job-creation record of the previous administration. At one point, he
claimed, in words to this effect, that when he took office, it was as if a big
sign stood at our borders reading: No New Jobs Allowed. Apparently it was OK
to tear down Pennsylvania when speaking of our No. 45 ranking during the
previous Democratic administration, but it’s not OK now.
Then in the Dec. 21, 1997 issue of the
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Leslie Gromis, Ridge’s reelection campaign manager
at the time, said “jobs will be the No. 1 issue in this campaign.”
So, first they criticize the opposition party’s record on job creation, then they identify jobs as the No. 1 issue in a political campaign, but when someone distributes objective data reflecting their performance, they whine about partisanship.
Which brings us to the issue of that
performance itself. The Salon article repeated the fiction that
Pennsylvania had climbed from 45th under the previous administration
to 16th in 1998. If we are talking about net creation of new jobs,
that is simply untrue. From U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, here is
Pennsylvania’s annual standing in job creation, comparing year-end numbers
from one December to the next, since the first year of the current
From available data so far in 2000, using
the 12-month period from April of 1999 to April of this year, we rank 44th.
It is amusing to see once again in the Salon
article the administration justify Pennsylvania’s low job creation ranking by
citing our population loss. One of the reasons people choose to move out of a
state is their inability to find a good job. Furthermore, this
administration’s business tax cut agenda was supposed to bring jobs into
this state, wasn’t it? Or is that big sign still at our borders?
Sen. Fumo’s point has not been that the
current administration has done any worse than the previous administration.
Rather, it is this: To the extent that we have enjoyed a healthy job climate, it
is because we have benefitted from the strong national economy, and it is
difficult for the current administration to argue that its pro-business policies
have instigated any sort of transformation in our individual state’s job
creation picture, as some would like to have the people of Pennsylvania believe.
Those policies have helped the bottom lines of big corporations, but they’ve
done little for average working people, at least in terms of providing new jobs.
Coming out of a recession, we were creating an average of 80,000 new jobs per
year at the end of the previous administration, between 1992 and 1994, and we
ranked 45th in the
country. Last year, in the midst of a mature national economic boom, we created
5,900 new jobs and ranked 47th.
Sen. Fumo is not trying to “tear down Pennsylvania” to take a shot at the administration. On the other hand, he is not going to allow others to misrepresent the job-growth climate in this state when accurate information to the contrary is available.
Copyright 2000 Sen. Vincent J. Fumo