Corbett: “the jobs are there,” but some purposely staying unemployed

Corbett and Elizabethtown Mayor Chuck Mummert

Republican gubernatorial nominee Tom Corbett says a portion of Pennsylvania’s 591,000 workers without jobs are choosing to stay unemployed.

During a door-to-door tour of Elizabethtown, Lancaster County businesses today, Corbett said “the jobs are there,” but that many people are purposely remaining unemployed, in order to collect benefits. He says he’s heard this from business owners across Pennsylvania. “One of the issues, and I hear it repeatedly – one of the individuals said, ‘I can’t get workers. People don’t want to come back to work while they still have unemployment.’’ He said.  “They’re literally telling him, ‘I’ll come back to work when unemployment runs out.’ That’s becoming a problem.”

Corbett added, “The jobs are there. But if we keep extending unemployment, people are going to sit there and – I’ve literally had construction companies tell me, I can’t get people to come back to work until…they say, I’ll come back to work when unemployment runs out.”

Here’s sound of the Attorney General’s comments:

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is at 9.1 percent. That’s slightly below the national rate of 9.5 percent. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s website, unemployment benefits should equal “about one-half” of a person’s previous weekly wage. L&I spokesman Troy Thompson explains, “If an unemployed worker did turn down a job because they could make more on unemployment compensation the job offer would be for less than half of their former salary. The average unemployment compensation amount is about $310.”

Democrat Dan Onorato responded to Corbett’s unemployment argument with the following statement: “I don’t know what world Tom Corbett is living in.  Our economy is struggling, families in Pennsylvania are hurting, and Harrisburg insiders like Tom Corbett aren’t doing anything to help them.  Tom Corbett doesn’t even recognize there’s a problem, so it’s no surprise that he has no real plan to improve our economy or actually create the jobs that in his mind already exist.”

Corbett also criticized the state budget signed into law this week. He faulted Governor Rendell and legislative leaders for banking on $850 million dollars in tentative federal assistance. “I understand that budgets are based upon projections. But counting on the federal government to come through on something is a risky proposition at the moment.” He disagreed with Rendell’s argument the state banks on unapproved federal dollars every year, responding, “This is a little different than saying, ok we’re going to get X because we always get X. this is speculation.”

Corbett also opposes a $600 million borrowing bill for construction projects across Pennsylvania. He says he isn’t against all bond issues, but thinks this one is irresponsible.

Corbett says he’d push for a two-year budget cycle, if he’s elected in November.


About pubradiopolitics
Scott covers state government and politics for Pennsylvania's public radio stations, including WITF in Harrisburg, WHYY in Philadelphia and WDUQ in Pittsburgh.

23 Responses to Corbett: “the jobs are there,” but some purposely staying unemployed

  1. BrettB says:

    Find me those companies. RIGHT NOW. Give them to me!

  2. Pingback: Detrow: Corbett says “the jobs are there,” but some purposely staying unemployed (AUDIO) | Politics PA

  3. JIM MARTIN says:


  4. Pingback: Corbett: ‘the jobs are there’ but some purposely staying unemployed… | GrassrootsPA

  5. Michael says:

    Maybe instead of posting snarky comments, you’d be out looking for those jobs instead of demanding them like the rest of the entitlements you claim to deserve.

  6. Corbett is wrong to say “the jobs are there” – at least not in terms of the number of job opening that would dramatically return our economy to the employment levels of a few years ago – but accurate on the effects of unemployment compensation.

    Unemployment compensation offers incentives for workers to refuse to take jobs, and to avoid seeking new jobs. In Pennsylvania, there is no penalty for turning down a job offer, and little enforcement of requirements to look for employment – two of the many problems with our UC system. Unemployment benefits create a double whammy, in that they are paid for through payroll taxes – and thus extensions and increases in benefits make it more expensive to hire workers.

    The economic evidence that extending unemployment benefits increases unemployment is overwhelming. A recent Wall Street Journal piece by Dr. Art Laffer highlights much of this, and these conclusions are mirrored by economists like Alan Reynolds and Larry Summers (Obama’s chief economic adviser).

    A very recent study finds that each week UC benefits are extended increases the average duration of unemployment by recipients by 0.2 weeks. On top of that, the US Dept. of Labor reports $7.1 billion in overpayments in unemployment compensation.

    Corbett may sound “mean”, but he’s not wrong. We need to reform our Unemployment Compensation system, not extend benefits.


    • Jen says:

      I agree with this – however, the problem with this recession is this:
      People will stay on unemployment based on wages earned from jobs from which they received a decent income. Why? The jobs that Tom Corbitt is talking about are part time (with no medical benefits) or minimum wage. Why would anyone want to return to FT work and resign themselves to such a downward spiral? Seems this is what the global ecomomy has brought us – falling wages. Plus I know someone who is on unemployment and cannot find a FT job in his field at anywhere near the rate he made three years ago. When enrolled in the WIA program (a federal program aimed at some unemployed people to allow them to obtain skills for a higher paying job), he initially was told he could enroll in a HVAC program that would be funded through WIA. Weeks later, the funding was not there anymore, this person is still unemployed and not finding a FT job in his current field. He works two paart time jobs to supplement and extend his UE benefits – he’s not laying around. But I wonder if his time would be better spent looking for FT work for which the state is not offering any assistance!

  7. Pingback: Reaction…. « State House Sound Bites

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  12. Johann says:

    All the unemployed people Tom Corbett knows about don’t want to work, so what does that tell you?

    Should we keep giving them money just because they don’t want to work?

    Like he says, the jobs are there (in fast food, and other jobs that used to be for school kids perhaps, but still THERE ARE JOBS).

    People in other countries will work cheaper than those colecting unemployment money in Pennsylvania. I say we re-locate foreigners here who will work cheaper than the lazy construction workers in PA.

  13. Pingback: State Policy Blog » Blog Archive » Corbett, Onorato Both Wishy-Washy on UC

  14. Pingback: Thoughts from the GOP on the unemployment situation « Later On

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  16. prw says:

    Unemployment benefits are SUPPOSED to give the unemployed time to find a new so as to reduce the chances they’ll have to take a job out of economic desperation.

    If someone who has lost a job that allowed them pay the mortgage, pay their credit card bills and put a kid through college has to take a job at wage that no longer allows them to do any of those things there are going to be obvious negative economic and social effects if they have to sell the house, default on debt and pull the kid out of school.

    These are the penalties that are paid and that we all may suffer from if workers are forced to take any job after loosing one. Part of the idea of UI is to make these outcomes less likely by giving people time to find appropriate employment.

    Corbett is not so much mean as short-sighted an ignorant of the basic premises of UI.

    Of course there are a lot of employers would love to have a huge pool of desperate workers willing to work at any price to save on employment costs, enhance profits, and make workers behave under the threat of unemployment.

    History provides good lessons about what happens when such a pool of desperate works exists.

  17. Pingback: Tom Corbett Says The Unemployed Just ‘Sit There’

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  20. Iain Menzies says:

    Good day it does happen. If you are searching for work or jobs in the UK please have a look at and finf the city of your choice.

  21. Pingback: Corbett highlights plethora of help-wanted ads in papers | Politics PA

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