Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Central PA economy shows slower growth

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Aug 18, 2014 2:59 PM

What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, August 19, 2014:


Even with an unemployment rate close to the national average, Pennsylvania is about a year and a half behind the rest of the nation when it comes to jobs.

How can that be?

PNC Financial Services economist Kurt Rankin says the statistics reflect a growing number of unemployed workers who have stopped looking for a job until the economy or job opportunities improve. 

Jobs have been added in Pennsylvania but not at the rate as elsewhere across the country.

Rankin says the lack of job security and stability has caused consumers to spend less.  With consumers not spending as much as expected during a recovery, employers have been slow to hire new workers.  Stagnant wages also contribute to a less than robust economy.

Rankin appears on Tuesday's Smart Talk to discuss Central Pennsylvania's, Pennsylvania's and the nation's economy.

The news isn't all bad.  Business Facilities Magazine rated the Harrisburg region first in the nation in the rate of growth of exports since the end of the recession.

The warehouse and logistics industries appear to be growing in the region but is it enough to offset job losses in the public sector and do the new jobs pay as much as the jobs that were lost?

We'll asked Rankin those and other economic related questions.

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  • Mark img 2014-08-19 08:15

    Can Mr. Rankin discuss the impact of the many warehouses dotted along the local interstate roads, and what will happen to their employment footprint when they inevitably increase their use of robotics and other technology?
    Also, can he explain how the Stock Market can continue to do well, when the underlying consumer activity continues to decrease? THANKS!

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-08-19 08:21

    Lee in York emails:

    Does your speaker think that Gov. Corbett's budgets helped create this economy? Specifically, by cutting expenditures (to school districts for example) thereby reducing demand in the State; compounded by reducing tax income from corporate tax payers (which didn't trickle down) and then missing the opportunity to take advantage of record low interest rates to borrow and begin a state-wide infrastructure rebuilding program 4 years ago (and this also includes Gov. Rendell's term) which could be repaid by the current gas tax increases.

  • John H. img 2014-08-19 08:31

    Until politicians stop insisting that the wealthy are job creators, and not the consumer; as a consumer, I've made the decision to reduce my consuming.

    If you look at the reduction in taxes for the wealthy since the late 1970s, we as a country should be drowning in over employment, not unemployment.

    Politicians both state and federal have sold out the middle class, without a strong middle class, this country will never have a strong economy.

  • Mark img 2014-08-19 08:37

    In response to the question as to why someone would “take themselves out of the workforce”, here’s my reason:
    It is a simple cost/benefit equation – the available jobs pay less, are further away (high fuel costs…) and in general have less respect for the workforce. Currently, it is more economically efficient for me to cut my spending to the bone (driving much less in a fuel-efficient car, heating with wood, growing my own food, etc…) than to be miserable in a low-pay, high-stress job. Essentially, I am on strike as a Consumer until the great ship of the Economy swings back to a track more equitable to the average worker and less advantageous to those in the upper echelon income brackets.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-08-19 08:51

    Nicole emails:

    In the past it seems tariffs were used to protect American industry, when America had industry...Andrew Carnegie had said that he never would have invested in steel if it wasn't for the tariffs on British, these tariffs do not exist because American companies have figured out that overseas can produce far cheaper products while they still can take advantage of the US market power.

    How does American benefit from overseas jobs, overseas investment, even this not so new trend of tax sheltering overseas? Would strategic tariffs help create jobs here in the US?

  • FranGo img 2014-08-19 09:08

    It may come as a surprise to economists, but people who have experienced unemployment have no difficulty identifying the problems. Where are the panelists who can offer solutions? Workers who formerly earned a professional wage cannot cover their expenses by flipping burgers. They lose their nice homes. People may go into bankruptcy due to medical bills. Parents whose only option is entry level employment learn it isn't worth working because after paying for child care and gas, they have very little left. People who are 50 years old or more are told to go to school for retraining. Then maybe they'll find gainful employment. Maybe, but they'll be competing for jobs with 30-year olds. The list goes on. I agree that the government is no substitute for corporations as a major employer. But when does the government step to "promote the general welfare"? The multinational corporations have deserted the American people for cheap employment overseas and at the same time lobbies against fair taxation and moves their accounts overseas. Somehow we the people will need to find some work to do. I just don't want to hear how big corporations are any kind of patriots.