Treasurer McCord Disputes Governor Corbett’s Unemployment Analysis

Illegal drug use is not a major factor in causing state’s joblessness, but administration policies are, McCord says.

Harrisburg– State Treasurer Rob McCord took issue today with Gov. Tom Corbett’s recent characterization of Pennsylvania’s employment picture as “better than other states” and with the governor’s assertion that the state’s declining jobs level is due to the unemployed being unable to pass drug tests.

“This is the typical blame game from someone who doesn’t understand the economy and doesn’t understand how to create jobs,” McCord said. “Drug use is not the cause of the state’s lagging employment rate.”

Contrary to Corbett’s claims, Pennsylvania is not doing better than other states under his administration. In fact, Pennsylvania ranked 49th in the nation for job creation in March, as the number of people working in the state declined by 14,000 after a 6,000 drop in February. 

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate fell two tenths of a percent to 7.9 percent in March, but that was because of fewer people seeking work. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate had been better than the national average for multiple years before Corbett took office, but by September of 2012 it slipped behind the rest of the country and has now been worse than the national average for seven consecutive months. The national rate was 7.6 percent in March.

Appearing on Radio PA’s “Ask the Governor” show on Monday, Corbett contended that Pennsylvania is “doing better than other states” under his administration. He also cited Pennsylvanians’ illegal drug use as a significant factor in causing unemployment.

“. . .  there are many employers that say we’re looking for people but we can’t find anybody that has passed a drug test, a lot of them. And that’s a concern for me because we’re having a serious problem with that,” Corbett said on the show.

McCord said a comment such as that one, as well as the Corbett administration’s policies, betray a fundamental lack of understanding about the nature of joblessness and the plight of people who are trying to find work.

“Governor Corbett is out of touch with the economic reality facing too many Pennsylvania families,” McCord said. “As treasurer, I've had the opportunity to travel around the state and talk to the men and women, many of whom are fathers and mothers trying to provide for their families, but lack work. I've found them to be hard-working and committed to doing whatever it takes to get back on the job.  I find the suggestion that they're out of work because of drug-testing to be insulting and, frankly, a little desperate.”

The key to job creation, McCord said, is wise investment in sectors of the economy that will make a positive difference for Pennsylvania’s future.

“It's not rocket science, but it seems to elude this administration,” McCord said.

“For example, Corbett failed for two years to act on a transportation plan that would have created thousands of good highway construction jobs in the state, despite a severe need to address deficient roads and unsafe bridges – a problem that his own commission identified. When he did offer a plan earlier this year, it was too little and too late. Even key members of his own party in the General Assembly recognize the investment he proposed was too small. The improvements would also have facilitated growth among businesses that rely on good transportation infrastructure,” McCord continued.

The Corbett administration has refused to accept the funding for an expansion of Medicaid, despite the federal government paying the entire additional cost for the first three years, and despite a RAND Corporation report, released in March, projecting that the expansion would create between 35,000 to 39,000 family-sustaining jobs in Pennsylvania.

“Critically,” McCord said, “Governor Corbett’s cuts to classroom education have caused nearly 20,000 lost jobs among teachers and support personnel through furloughs and attrition, and many teachers are now looking for work. The cuts have also weakened Pennsylvania’s long-term ability to create the kind of well-trained workforce that will attract companies to the state. Employers recognize the importance of focusing on educational opportunities for children beyond high school, but the governor has reduced higher education funding as well.

“The national economy is getting better very gradually, but employment has grown more slowly in Pennsylvania than in the rest of the country because of the governor’s failures in areas such as education, transportation, and health care,” McCord said. “Unfortunately for the people of Pennsylvania, the governor doesn’t seem to realize where the problem lies.”

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