Economic growth the bright spot of Corbett’s tenure

In many political circles, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is viewed as vulnerable in next year’s election. Much of that thinking is probably based on the failure of the governor to get positive action on some of his most treasured initiatives, such as the privatization of the liquor store system and pension reform.

But if it’s true that most people vote according to their pocketbooks – and we believe that’s usually the case – the governor has a fairly strong economic record to campaign on.

According to the state departments of Labor and Industry and Community and Economic Development, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is keeping pace with the nation and surrounding states.

That often has not been the case when the nation is recovering however modestly from a recession, as it now is.

Pennsylvania now has its largest amount of employed people – 6 million -since the recession. Since 2011, the state has ranked fourth in overall employment and 13th out of 50 states for private sector job growth.

The state is becoming an energy leader, with 200,000 jobs and $36 billion in economic activity generated by energy businesses in the past four years.

Similarly, the health care industry has been a leader in job growth, with an employment gain of 34,800 in the past four years. Categories such as health care and energy tend to be reliable economic anchors.

There will be plenty of criticisms of Corbett in the coming year and some of the points will have some legitimacy. Even he would admit the state has not moved as far forward in the past four years as hoped.

But by most economic standards that are viewed as objective measures, the past four years have seen the state actually moving in the right direction.

Certainly that movement has not come as sharply or as quickly as all Pennsylvanians would like. But by and large, the state’s economy has been improved in the last four years.

The (Williamsport) Sun-Gazette