State's ranking in jobs up for political scrutiny
HARRISBURG - A new report examining anticipated job growth for the 50 states in 2014 is likely to provide even more fodder for an election year issue that has already gotten a lot of mileage.
Gov. Tom Corbett and the crowded field of Democratic gubernatorial candidates have been sparring for months over how Pennsylvania ranks in this category compared to the other 49 states.
Here is how a new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts stacks things up.
For this new year, Pennsylvania will rank at the lower end in 41st place with a projected job growth rate of 1.31 percent, having added 75,684 new jobs.
Pennsylvania falls between its neighbors to the north and east in the Pew rankings. New York ranks 47th with a 1.12 percent job growth rate, having added 100,118 new jobs. New Jersey ranks 37th with a 1.34 percent job growth rate and 53,084 new jobs.
Ohio, a state with similar demographics to Pennsylvania, ranks 33rd with a 1.47 percent job growth rate, having added 76,420 jobs
The Pew report is based on forecasts by Moody's Analytics, a global economic forecasting firm.
The top state for job growth in 2014 is North Dakota, beneficiary of a gas drilling boom, with a 3.6 percent growth rate.
The Sun Belt states of Arizona, Texas, Florida and Georgia, plus Colorado, fill out the roster of top states for projected job growth.
Nationwide, the economy is expected to generate 2.6 million new jobs in 2014, based on growth in the health care, energy and hi-tech sectors, according to Pew.
Meanwhile, the state Independent Fiscal Office projects that Pennsylvania will gain about 77,000 jobs in 2014.
These projections are important because nearly one in four (22 percent) of registered Pennsylvania voters believe "unemployment and the economy" is the state's most important problem, according to a poll released last October by Franklin and Marshall College.
The poll of 628 registered voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.
Jobs were on the mind of Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati, R-25, Jefferson County, who was re-elected last week to a new term in that post.
Scarnati urged his colleagues to keep in mind that action or inaction on their part can rob someone of a job.
(Robert Swift is Harrisburg bureau chief for Times-Shamrock Communications newspapers. firstname.lastname@example.org.)