Ken Gerg thinks with unemployment low and the stock market high the economy is good. Unemployment numbers are low because many people are employed as involuntary part-time workers, full-time jobs being virtually non-existent.
Employers save money on wages and benefits. Stock values and profits rise. Workers get lower wages and fewer benefits, with many being forced to work several part-time jobs to provide for their families.
The stock market and unemployment numbers serve as an index of how well rich people are doing, and they are doing very well, since virtually all of the wealth created since the financial meltdown has gone to the top 2%. The stock market and unemployment numbers mean nothing to workers who are keeping unemployment numbers low by working multiple part-time jobs.
A steel mill in Farrell laid off 100 workers. A coke plant in Erie just closed. If steel mills can’t operate profitably there is no need for coke. Directly attributable to steel tariffs, this negatively affects Pennsylvania’s economy and hardly point to the promised resurgence of manufacturing and return of good jobs for Americans. The affected workers may not share Mr. Gerg’s economic optimism.
A recent story in The Bradford Era started with “A homeless man from Bradford…” I am 72 and grew up here in McKean County. Homeless people used to be seen only in cities. Bradford now has a homeless population. I fail to see how the rise of homelessness in America — something that has increased in recent decades — is any indicator of the kind of economy Mr. Gerg describes. Local homelessness will likely increase with the gutting of our lumber industry, also from tariffs.
Politics aside, here’s something that affects each one of us because we all have to eat. Will Mr. Gerg explain why — in such a healthy fully-employed economy — food prices are rising at an astounding rate, and wages are not?
“Rural Pennsylvania” is synonymous with “inter-generational economic disadvantage.” This will continue so long as politicians are not expected to do anything for constituents to keep getting elected.
There is an obvious solution.
Eugene Johnson, Hazel Hurst