New Report on Pennsylvania Economy

Posted by on September 29, 2008

Pennsylvanians Make Little Progress Despite Economic Expansion

The turmoil in the nation’s financial markets this month suggests that the economic slowdown which began late last year is likely to run deeper and last longer than previously anticipated.

This is bad news for Pennsylvania, where median household income, health insurance coverage, and poverty still reflect the losses of the last recession, despite six years of economic growth.

Using 2007 data from the US Census Bureau, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center’s new publication, Lifting Few Boats, finds little to cheer about. Among its findings:

* The inflation-adjusted income of the typical Pennsylvania household rose in 2007, but households have not made up the ground they lost as a result of the 2001 recession.
* The share of Pennsylvanians living in poverty declined in 2007, while child poverty remained statistically unchanged, but both rates are higher than at the end of the last economic expansion in 2001.
* The share of Pennsylvanians without any health insurance is higher than in 2001, and the share of those with employment –based coverage is lower.

The report also compares poverty rates and median incomes across Pennsylvania’s cities and counties, finding wide disparities across regions and deep poverty in cities and rural counties. Poverty in Indiana and Fayette Counties, for example, is close to 20%, approaching that of Philadelphia. Major findings specific to poverty and income include:

* 434,000 Pennsylvania children live in poverty, with the cities of Erie and Reading posting child poverty rates over 40%.
* The income in Pennsylvania’s cities is much lower than the counties in which they are located, ranging from a $6500 difference between Scranton and Lackawanna County to a $27,000 difference between Reading and Berks County.
* Median income in the Philadelphia metropolitan area is $10,000 higher than the state average and $20,000 more than the Johnstown metropolitan area.

Prices for food and energy rose quickly in 2008, eroding the few gains Pennsylvania families made in 2007. Pennsylvanians enters the next recession without having fully recovered from the last, and with fewer resources to ride out the storm.

For the full report click here:

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