While unemployment has been the single most imperative issue facing Pennsylvania and the nation during the Great Recession and the stagnant economic recovery, another issue, as equally important has emerged -- low-wage workers who are underemployed and underpaid. These middle-class and working-class individuals, while currently employed, still find that the jobs they currently have are not enough to make ends meet.
With the current economic downturn dragging on, many employers are having to cut hours and wages of their workers, causing underemployment. These underemployed workers are finding that their pay simply cannot keep apace of their expenses. They are struggling to pay their bills and mortgage, clothe their children and put food on the table.
With unemployed and underemployed workers descending upon the job market all at once, there are simply not enough well paying jobs available to accommodate the needs of this growing population.
Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rates January – May 2012:
We are in desperate need of a healthy state and federal jobs program. We need to put folks back to work, in jobs with decent wages. While the stagnation of employment and wages is not a new problem, it is a problem that can be solved with innovative and immediate solutions.
Time and time again, Senate Democrats have pushed job creation and economic growth as our main agenda, especially at this time when Pennsylvania’s economy is still lagging dangerously behind the nation.
A recent column in the Philadelphia Inquirer states that while Pennsylvania’s economic output amounted to $500.4 billion in 2011, the percentage of growth from 2010 was only 1.2 percent, placing Pennsylvania at 22nd place nationally.
Pennsylvania’s job growth has also stalled since 2008. Pennsylvania employment has failed to keep pace with the national recovery, rebounding at a much slower rate than the national level.
Employment Numbers in Pennsylvania:
This interactive map from the Pew Center on the States shows that Pennsylvania’s employment recovery remains stagnant. Clearly there is a need to ramp up our efforts on economic stimulus and job creation.
As household wealth drops and college tuition costs, as well as many other costs continue to rise, the unemployed and underemployed will simply be unable to keep up with these rising costs adding to the already strained economy. Investing in job creation is the only way to revive a stalled economy and pull the unemployed and underemployed out of their personal financial crisis.
Senate Democrats unveiled an Infrastructure Investment Plan that, if implemented, could create jobs immediately. View the Infrastructure Investment Plan here.
If Pennsylvania and the federal government implement job creation plans like this, we can put more people back to work in quality, long-term jobs that pay adequate wages and rebuild our economy.
Offices of State Senator Vincent Hughes