Energy - October 4, 2013

PA data shows state’s economy is growing

On Thursday, Pennsylvania Labor Secretary Julia Hearthway announced that according to the most recent data, the state’s economy is on the upswing.  Pennsylvania has lost fewer jobs overall and gained more jobs than other competing states since the recession began.  Hearthway stressed that the month-to-month figures are often in complete picture; figures showing that people are working or have been looking for work have increased since the recession.  National figures show a decline in this area. 

About 70 percent of jobs lost during the recession have been recovered in PA; in comparison to some surrounding states that is high.  Ohio has only recovered about 39 percent of lost jobs and New Jersey 50 percent.  Some state economists caution that optimism; noting that the number of “private total jobs remain 30,000 below the peak levels reached in 2008.”  Pennsylvania has faired better than other states since the recession; the state wasn’t as affected in the housing and construction industry as the rest of the nation and the boom in shale activity helped as well.  Hearthway stated that the education and health services sectors also helped bolster the state against the recession but there are still “roadblocks to growth.”  In effort to reduce those roadblocks the state government has tried to “reduce corporate taxes and credits that allow companies to deduct past losses from current profits;” the state has also tried to help jobseekers by starting a website to connect employers with potential employees. 


PA health insurance exchange opened this week

Amid a government shutdown, health care exchanges across the US opened for business.  Pennsylvania, along with the other 35 states, opted to run its exchange entirely through the federal government.  As the federal site went live on Tuesday the influx of visitors prevented many users from gaining access.  Users received high traffic messages and many took to social media to log their complaints.  President Obama held an afternoon press conference and said that glitches were not unexpected but they are not a reason to scrap the whole system.  Reuters reported that states that ran their own exchanges seemed to operating smoothly.  Those choosing to enroll via the exchange have until March 31, 2014 to do so; and those opting for coverage that starts January 1, 2014 will need to enroll and pay their first premium by mid-December 2013