Op-Ed: “The longest economic recovery on record and a state unemployment rate of 4.3% sounds like a strong foundation for Kentuckians’ prosperity. But a close look at the numbers this Labor Day shows an economy in which many Kentucky communities still lack jobs, especially quality jobs families need to thrive.”
Each Labor Day the Keystone Research Center releases an annual checkup on the health of the Pennsylvania labor market, “The State of Working Pennsylvania.” (https://www.keystoneresearch.org/SWP2018). The 2018 edition focused on state-level data, mostly available through June 2018. This addendum to that report focuses on 2017 data released last month by the Census Bureau on incomes and poverty for Philadelphia. We complement the Census data with statistics on employment and unemployment from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to provide a comprehensive assessment of the performance of the Philadelphia economy since 2005. We start with the year 2005 as that is the first year in which data at the county level are available from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
A full 30 percent of Kentuckians are working jobs that pay less than $12.50 an hour; fewer than half working in the private sector have an employer-sponsored retirement plan and just 44 percent have employer-sponsored health insurance. In economically distressed regions, even bad jobs are scarce.
Yet we often hear that the problem facing Kentucky is a lack of good workers. This “skills gap” explanation of Kentucky’s economic situation is not supported by the evidence, but you don’t have to take my word for it. When someone says Kentucky employers can’t fill jobs with good workers, ask “at what wage?”
A new report finds that even in Washington — a state whose tax system has been called the nation’s most unfair to the poor — Seattle manages to stand out from the pack.
The report, published this week by the Seattle-based Economic Opportunity Institute (EOI), a liberal think tank, evaluated the tax burdens for households at various income levels in 15 Washington cities. Among those cities, the report found Seattle’s taxes to be the most regressive — in other words, hard on the poor and easy on the rich.