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Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Region’s unemployment rate decreases to 9.6 percent

03.29.10

APRIL 2010, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Region’s unemployment rate decreases to 9.6 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, March 17th- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Center for Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg, the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased by one-tenth of a percentage point to 9.6 percent. The MSA includes Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon Counties of Pennsylvania and Warren County, New Jersey. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was 7.2 percent.

There are fourteen Metropolitan Statistical Area’s in Pennsylvania and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area is tied with the Reading MSA and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA for the fourth highest unemployment rate.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 8.8 percent, unchanged from the previous report, which was released approximately four weeks ago. There are 564,000 Pennsylvania residents without jobs. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted workforce of 6,421,000 and 5,856,000 of them have employment. The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 9.7 percent, decreasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. However, the rate does not include workers who benefits have been exhausted and have stopped looking for work. There are 14,837,000 residents nationally unemployed which also does not include workers who benefits have been exhausted.

The data shows the Williamsport MSA has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 9.9 percent. The Erie MSA has the second highest unemployment rate in the state at 9.8 percent, with the the Johnstown MSA the third highest unemployment rate in the state at 9.7 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.3 percent, with the Lebanon MSA second at 7.5 percent and the Altoona MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 7.9 percent.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest civilian labor force in Pennsylvania at 427,100, rising by 5,000 during the past twelve months. There are 41,000 residents in the MSA without jobs, rising by 10,600 during the past twelve months. Those numbers does not include workers who have exhausted their benefits.

The Philadelphia MSA has the largest civilian labor force in Pennsylvania at 2,996,900 with 269,500 residents not working. The Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest civilian labor force at 1,240,100, with 100,000 residents unemployed. The Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest civilian labor force in the state at 288,700, with 22,800 residents unemployed. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fifth largest civilian labor force at 278,800 with 27,300 residents not working.

Candidate for Governor Wagner once represented by IBEW Union

03.29.10

APRIL 2010, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Candidate for Governor Wagner once represented by IBEW Union

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, March 18th- Pennsylvania Auditor General and Democratic party candidate for Pennsylvania Governor Jack Wagner is a former union member and is requesting the labor community support him in the May 18th election. Mr. Wagner is one of four Democrats seeking to become their party nominee and challenge the Republican Party candidate in November for Governor. The candidates want to replace out-going Democratic Governor Edward Rendell.

Mr. Wagner during a interview by the newspaper stated he was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electricial Workers (IBEW) Union Local 29 in Pittsburgh for five years while in College. “I walked the picket line while on strike when I was a meter reader in the Pittsburgh area,” said Mr. Wagner.

He stated if elected, he would not support legislation that bans the signing of Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s) with construction trade unions but believes all state building projects should be put out to bid. “Putting out contracts to bid will save taxpayers money,” said Mr. Wagner. “The current system on bidding must be changed.”

In October 2009 Republican House of Representative John Bear (97th Legislative District) introduced legislation that would prohibit the use of PLA’s on public projects in Pennsylvania. House Bill 2010 biggest supporter is the Association of Builders and Contractors (ABC) construction group. The ABCis made-up of nonunion contractors and builders and often lobbies for anti-union legislation.

Also, Mr. Wagner told the newspaper he would not sign any legislation that would ban unions from gaining union security clauses in Pennsylvania.

In November 2009, legislation was referred to the Committee on Labor Relations of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that if passed would ban labor organizations and employers from entering into agreements that make joining a union part of a compulsory condition of work or employment. Such legislation is often referred to as “right-to-work.”

The lead sponsor of House Bill 50 was Republican Representative Daryl Metcalf (12th Legislative District).

Legislation to make Pennsylvania a “Right-to-Work” state has been discussed in Harrisburg in the past, however, the legislation had never gain as many co-signers, 32, as House Bill 50 received.

Mr. Wagner when asked whether he supports the closing of the Allentown State Hospital, which the Rendell administration announced in January would be close by the end of 2010, said he was unfamiliar with the situation and could not make any comments.

Mr. Wagner said closing and selling Commonwealth properties has gain popularity by both Democratic and Republican administrations over the past several decades. “This is the worst time to be selling real estate. But, I’m not familiar with the situation at the Allentown State Hospital.”