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Keystone Research Center releases economic study

09.23.08

September 2008 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Keystone Research Center releases economic study

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

REGION, August 29th- The Keystone Research Center in Harrisburg, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group, released their annual report of the Pennsylvania economy and is urging voters to rate Presidential candidates Senator Obama and Senator McCain by their economic plans.

The Pennsylvania economic report, released on August 27th, shows stagnant wages, tumbling home prices, and skyrocketing income increases for the wealthiest Commonwealth residents. The Keystone Research Center hopes voters will use their information to better make informed choices about the economic plans of Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain. “With polls finding the economy the number one issue across the land, voters are starved for a convincing story about how each candidate would restore broadly shared prosperity. Voters don’t want a laundry list. They do want some specifics about how each candidate would make a real difference, plus they want an overall vision that restores confidence in the possibility of a better future,” said Keystone Research Center economist Stephen Herzenberg.

The group also released a document which is a scorecard with ten criteria for rating the candidates’ own economic plans. The criteria are drawn from the organizations economic analysis and vision, and can be used to assess Mr. Obama’s and Mr. McCain’s understanding of the economic realities facing working families and to improve those realities. Individual criteria address wages, benefits, worker training, green jobs, unionization rights, trade policies, and the need for economic stimulus that would kick-start a transition to a more moral economy. The scorecard is available online at http://www.keystonerearch.org. “We think our scorecard criteria provide a solid basis on which the average voter can evaluate both candidates,” added Mr. Herzenberg.

Mr. Herzenberg said providing the voter scorecard is a logical extension of what the Keystone Research Center does. “Since our founding in 1996, our mission has always been highly practical and pragmatic promoting solutions that will actually work to improve the lives of Pennsylvania workers and families. In our recent report, we’ve pinpointed the current problems. Now we’re presenting the solutions in a form that we hope will reach some new audiences.”

The group believes with the change in the presidency at hand, now is the perfect time to offer a vision to both campaigns. “Our proposal is simple and workable, and we would be thrilled to have it ‘plagiarized’ by Senator Obama or Senator McCain,” said Mr. Herzenberg.

The report found that the year-old national economic crisis, with rising mortage foreclosurers, falling home prices, and severely stressed financial institutions, has already damaged the Pennsylvania economy. The wages of most Pennsylvania workers are stagnant, and the concentration of income among the richest 1 percent of earners is approaching the level of the 1920’s. The report was writen by Mr. Herzenberg and fellow Keystone Research Center economist Mark Price, PhD.

The report revealed that even before the economy began to falter, Pennsylvania workers were not doing well. Between 2001 and 2005, the richest 1 percent of Pennsylvania families captured nearly 80 percent of all the growth in personal income in the state.

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