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Category Archives: News

Workforce development news from Pennsylvania and across the U.S.

Paul Ryan brings tidings of tax change to Delaware County factory workers


Inside a rust-colored building in Aston Township, the Pennsylvania Machine Works turns out high-pressure piping used by gas and nuclear energy companies.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan chose the Delaware County company, founded during the Great Depression, to promote a Republican-authored proposal to overhaul the federal tax code.

“We want the country to be confident,” he told some of the 150 workers at the plant Thursday, promising the plan would create jobs and raise wages.

Hearing about the proposal for sweeping tax changes for businesses and individuals, employees of the company known as Penn Machine pressed the speaker for more details on how the framework would improve their lives.

“How can we guarantee that by cutting the corporate tax rate by 15 percent that it will trickle down to the blue-collar workers and not the CEOs,” asked Richard Bennett, a crew leader at the company.

“Well, first of all, [executives] are already getting paid well,” said Ryan, arguing that businesses need to locate in the U.S. for domestic workers to benefit at all.

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Gov. Wolf convenes task force on supporting and growing PA’s middle class. PA Chamber of Business and Industry head Barr, PA AFL-CIO President Bloomingdale cited. Keywords: economic development.

Gov. Tom Wolf has placed a priority on supporting and growing Pennsylvania’s middle class and is looking to education, workforce development, labor and business leaders to develop a plan to do it.

He has convened a task force to develop policy recommendations by the end of this year of actionable ideas that lead toward that goal.

The panel held its first of six regional meetings on Friday at the Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union building in Susquehanna Township. The other sessions are planned in other parts of the state to gather input about how to better support working families and make the workforce more competitive in those regions of the state.


Pennsylvania students score higher in math and English since last year

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exam scores in English and math generally increased slightly over last year, with consistently higher outcomes in English for each of the past three years among third-graders, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Since 2015, the PSSA standardized tests have been based on new standards called the Pennsylvania Core, the state’s version of the Common Core standardized national curriculum for public schools. The state education department released the latest results Wednesday afternoon.

PSSA math scores were generally flat over last year. The end-of-course Keystone exams in literature, biology and algebra among first-time test-takers were generally flat over last year’s scores, but there was a “noticeable reduction in retests administered,” the department said in a press release. (Students can take the test as many times as they want until they score proficient or higher. Keystones won’t be used as a graduation requirement until 2019.

The PSSA scores will be used to form the School Performance Profile report card to be released next month. 

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Lehigh Valley economic output hits record $39 billion

Giddyup, Wyoming. take a hike, Vermont.

The Lehigh Valley region has surpassed the private sector economic output of the Cowboy and Green Mountain states — and dozens of nations — in the latest federal rankings of gross domestic product, or the sum of all goods and services.

The four-county region logged a record $39.1 billion in private sector GDP during 2016, ranking 65th out of the 382 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., according to data released Thursday. That jumps the Valley eight places from 2015’s figure of $37.5 billion and ahead of Dayton, Ohio, a region with a similarly sized population of about 800,000. With government spending factored in, the Valley’s GDP balloons to $42.7 billion.

Driving the Valley’s growth was the insurance and real estate sector, which recorded $8 billion in output in 2016 — up nearly 6 percent from the previous year, according to the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. Manufacturing, which ranked highest in 2015, came in second last year at $6.9 billion, a 2.6 percent hike.


Wolf says he can stave off major budget pain until Oct. 1

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday said he believes he can stave off any major harm from the state’s unfinished budget until Oct. 1.

In an interview with Pittsburgh radio station KQV, the Democratic governor said that if legislators can find a compromise on a revenue bill and approve it by that time, “I can make this work.”

As recently as last week, Mr. Wolf was warning of dire consequences should the GOP-controlled legislature not swiftly fund the $32 billion spending plan it passed nearly three months ago. He has also been cautioning that the state faces a credit downgrade if a deal is not reached quickly.

But during the interview Tuesday, Mr. Wolf sounded a more optimistic tone. He said he spoke on the phone on Monday with representatives from the credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s and that he came away with the sense that the state could push off that day of reckoning until next month.

“They’re willing to let us work through this process,” Mr. Wolf said. “I think they like the sense of optimism that we’re all expressing and believe that’s a good sign that we will land in a place that works out. In the meantime, I can make things work financially.”

S&P declined to comment.

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Education committee chairmen “deeply disappointed” in state plan to comply with federal education law


To say, the House and Senate education committee chairmen are unhappy with the final version of Pennsylvania’s plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act is probably an understatement.

Sen. John Eichelberger, R-Blair County, and Rep. David Hickernell, R-Lancaster County, said on Tuesday they are “deeply disappointed” with the state’s plan and intend to convey their concerns with U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

“We believe it is a step backwards for the commonwealth,” they stated in comments submitted to the state Department of Education prior to the plan’s submission.

The plan, which provides a roadmap for public education in this state for the next decade or so, was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education on Monday. It now awaits a review and approval by DeVos which would ensure that federal education funds, which this year amounted to about $700 million, are to going to continue to flow into state coffers.

“The plan kicks the can down the road, and appears to benefit the education establishment and its consultants more than the children of Pennsylvania,” Eichelberger said in a joint news release issued with Hickernell.

The two chairmen submitted seven pages of questions and concerns to the department that touched on changes to the state assessment system, new accountability measures and interventions for under-performing schools.

A few examples of many areas of concern that the chairmen outlined in their comments to the state department include:

State Rep. Ryan Mackenzie to run for Charlie Dent’s congressional seat


State Rep. Ryan Mackenzie followed the Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared.”

A Lehigh County Republican who represents part of Berks County, Mackenzie was ready to announce his candidacy in Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District just hours after U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent said he wouldn’t seek an eighth term.“It is something I had been mulling over,” Mackenzie said. “There were rumors that Dent was going to leave. Then he canceled a fall fundraiser. We did not know anything definitely.

“We were prepared to hit the ground running, and we have,” he said.Mackenzie, 35, is in his fourth term representing the 134th state House District, which includes part of Berks County.He was first elected in a 2012 special election to fill out the term of his predecessor, former state Rep. Doug Reichley, who became a Lehigh County judge. Mackenzie’s current term ends in December 2018 and he will not seek re-election for that state House seat. He intends to focus on his bid for the congressional seat.

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Pittsburgh tops list of best cities for jobs


Need a job? Pittsburgh is hiring.

The city topped a list of the best cities for jobs recently compiled by Glassdoor, a jobs and careers website.

Pittsburgh beat out Ohio neighbors Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland, which ranked seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively, in the 25-city list. Indianapolis was second, followed by Kansas City, Mo., the Raleigh-Durham metro area in North Carolina and St. Louis to round out the top five.

Glassdoor created its list by looking at the 50 most populated metro areas and ranking each city on hiring opportunity, cost of living and job satisfaction. The site determined hiring opportunity by finding the ratio of active job openings to population. Cost of living was determined by the ratio of median base salary to median home value.

Job satisfaction was determined by using company reviews from employees who use Glassdoor.

Glassdoor’s list said Pittsburgh had 95,399 job openings and a job satisfaction score of 3.2 out of 5. It listed Pittsburgh’s median salary as $44,000 and its median home value as $137,400. Hot jobs in Pittsburgh included civil engineers, project managers and registered nurses.

The list comes out a week after Guhan Venkatu, group vice president and economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, said Pittsburgh job growth has stagnated since 2012 and the state awarded the Community College of Allegheny County a $10 million grant to build a job training center .

Pittsburgh’s unemployment rate for July, the most recent month for which statistics are available, stayed steady at […]

For Amazon prize, it’s an East-West fight in PA

From the Philadelphia Inquirer

HARRISBURG — In the middle of one of the busiest legislative workdays in the Capitol this week, a group of state senators — including the chamber’s ranking Republican and Democrat — wrote Gov. Wolf letters with a not-so-subtle message: Pick Pittsburgh. Allegheny County’s top executive has already reached out to the governor, too.

As Philadelphia sizes up a coast-to-coast list of cities competing to land Amazon’s new headquarters, one of its fiercest rivals might be the in-state neighbor a few hundred miles to the west. The cities tangle over everything from who has the best sports teams to the relative merits of their respective gut-blasting sandwiches, and seem destined to collide over one of the nation’s biggest economic development prizes in years.

And if Amazon decides only one Pennsylvania town makes its short, short list, Pittsburgh is not going down without a fight.

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Gov. Tom Wolf, General Assembly violating state’s balanced budget requirement: lawsuit


Saying Gov. Tom Wolf and the General Assembly have been violating the state constitution for the past two years by enacting unbalanced budgets, a trio of Pennsylvanians have decided the time is right to ask the court to put a stop to it.

A lobbyist, a businessman and a lawmaker are expected to file a lawsuit on Thursday that aims to force state government to live within its means and prevent a recurrence of the unbalanced budget bind in which Pennsylvania now finds itself.

The lawsuit to be filed in Commonwealth Court seeks the court to compel Wolf, the General Assembly, state Treasurer Joe Torsella and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale to uphold the balanced budget requirement in the state constitution.

“Essentially all we’re asking from the court is to compel our state officials to abide by the law, adhere to their constitutional oath to defend and obey the constitution, the only oath they take as state officials, and fulfill their responsibilities to the people of Pennsylvania in that regard,” Matt Brouillette, president and CEO of the Harrisburg-based Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs, said Wednesday.

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PA Workforce Development Association