Penn State Study Tells An Economic Story Of "Two Pennsylvanias"

Jun 13, 2018

The study showed a stark divide in employment recovery after the 2008 recession in different parts of the state.
Credit "Pennsylvania Employment on the Move: 2001-17" study 

National unemployment levels are as low as they have been in years, but that rising tide isn’t necessarily lifting all boats. Penn State researchers say recent economic development in different parts of Pennsylvania varies dramatically.

In a report published this week by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, researchers paint a picture of two Pennsylvanias. Since the 2008 financial crisis, urban areas, especially in the east, are faring much better than more rural parts of the state.

The 44 counties in interior Pennsylvania lost almost 90,000 jobs between 2008 and 2016. In that same time, Philadelphia gained over 70,000.

“The employment for Centre County is completely different from Clinton County is completely different from others,” says Gretchen Seigworth, one of the co-authors of the study.

The report—also authored by Ted Alter, Ted Fuller and Tessa Sontheimer—doesn’t go into what’s causing the “Two Pennsylvanias,” and it doesn’t suggest specific policy solutions. But Seigworth says their data can show lawmakers there is no one-size-fits-all fix to move the state forward.

“Given the diversity of issues we’re facing, we suggest we need a diversity of approaches as well,” she says.