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Poll indicates the selling of state stores is minor priority

04.15.15

APRIL 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Poll indicates the selling of state stores is minor priority

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 5th- While some members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, mainly pro-business Republicans, continue to press for the selling-off of the State Wine and Spirits Stores, a new poll conducted and released by Franklin & Marshall College, indicates that Pennsylvanians really believe there are bigger issues facing the state than privatizing the system.

Again this legislative season has seen another attempt to pass legislation that would allow the selling-off of the around 600-plus wine and spirits stores currently operated by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB). The selling of the system will put more than 5,000 mostly union family sustaining jobs in harms way.

The United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union represents the majority of the stores employees, including clerks and shelve stockers. UFCW Local 1776 represents the workers within the eastern part of Pennsylvania while UFCW Local 23 represents the western part.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union represents mainly the office employees of the system including the PLCB auditors, which operates the stores.

According to the March 26th released Franklin & Marshall College poll only one percent of respondents believe selling of the system should be a “priority” of state lawmakers.

Also, only thirty percent feel the system should be sold. The majority of respondents would rather see the system modernized, as Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom Wolf has proposed, or allow the stores to remain owned by the taxpayers.

Governor Wolf promises to veto any legislation that would lead to the privatization of the store system. He has proposed a plan for the PLCB, which operates the system, to “modernized” the system by extending Sunday hours and Holiday sales, improve store locations, having more flexible pricing, create a system of competitive pricing, and more customer engagement.

Net profits of the latest reporting period under current system was $123.68 million on gross revenue of $2.27 billion, amounting to a net profit margin of 5.44 percent. Under Mr. Wolf’s proposal he estimates the system would be even more profitable creating an additional annual profit of $185 million by fiscal 2018.

The survey was conducted between March 17th to 23rd. The poll involved 597 Pennsylvania registered to vote citizens.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA’s unemployment rate increases to 6.2 percent

04.15.15

APRIL 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

MSA’s unemployment rate increases to 6.2 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 1st- According to data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, (DOL) Center of Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) unemployment rate increased by two-tenths of a percentage point to 6.2 percent. Twelve months ago the region’s unemployment rate was 7.9 percent.

The MSA has the sixtieth highest unemployment rate among the eighteen in Pennsylvania. The newspaper previously reported the DOL added four more MSA’s in January. Now included within the DOL’s data of MSA’s are: Chamberburg/Waynesboro; Bloomsburg/Berwick; East Stroudsburg; and Gettysburg.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties of Pennsylvania.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 5.2 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,372,000 with 329,000 not working. Pennsylvania has 6,044,000 civilians with employment. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate decreased by one full percentage point over the past twelve months. Meanwhile, the nation’s unemployment rate was reported to be at 5.5 percent, decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report and decreasing by one and two-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago.

The East Stroudsburg MSA has the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.6 percent, the Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 6.5 percent while the Williamsport MSA has the fourth highest unemployment rate in the state at 5.6 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 3.9 percent. The Lancaster MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate and the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA and the Gettysburg MSA are tied with the third lowest in Pennsylvania at 4.3 percent.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fifth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 282,700 civilians, increasing by 4,100 during the past twelve months. There are 17,500 civilians without employment, increasing by 500 from the previous report and dropping by 4,600 from one year ago.

The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 3,042,200 with 170,200 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor-force at 1,207,800 with 62,300 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor-force at 424,300 with 23,400 not working.

The Bloomsburg/Berwick MSA has the smallest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 43,600 civilians and 2,200 of them have no jobs. The Gettysburg MSA has the second smallest civilian labor-force at 55,600 and 2,400 of them are jobless. The Williamsport MSA has the third smallest labor-force with 60,900 civilians with 3,400 without employment and the Johnstown MSA is fourth with a labor-force of 63,000 and 4,100 of them are not working.

Wyoming County has the lowest unemployment in the MSA at 5.3 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by two and six-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before. Wyoming County has 700 civilians of their work-force without jobs.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate within the MSA at 6.4 percent, rising by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by one and seven-tenths of a percentage point from one year before. Luzerne County has 10,200 civilians without employment, dropping by 2,700 during the past year.

Lackawanna County’s unemployment rate is 5.9 percent, rising by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report and decreasing by one and seven-tenths of a percentage point from one year before. There are 6,400 Lackawanna County residents reported to be unemployed.