Reaction….

…to Attorney General Tom Corbett’s “the jobs are there” comments continues to flood in. The AFL-CIO and Pennsylvania Democratic Party have released statements condemning the remarks. Both the Commonwealth Foundation and Keystone Research Center have taken a look at unemployment statistics, as well. The right-leaning folks at the Commonwealth Foundation say Corbett is “right on unemployment compensation offer[ing] incentives for workers to refuse to take jobs, and to avoid seeking new jobs.” But they also conclude Corbett was “wrong to say ‘the jobs are there’ – at least not in terms of the number of job openings that would dramatically return our economy to the employment levels of a few years ago.”

The Keystone Research Center says that’s the whole point. The jobs AREN’T there. “As of May 2010 employment in Pennsylvania remains 3% or 184,000 jobs below its level in December 2007. At a comparable point in the two previous economic recoveries employment was just under 2% below its peak levels. And critically the number of unemployed workers per job opening remains substantially higher than normal.”

Here’s Democratic Chairman Jim Burn’s statement on Corbett’s comments. (Note the cribbing of Senator Ted Kennedy’s famous “In Robert Bork’s America…” speech.)

Pittsburgh: Tom Corbett’s insensitive and callous remarks claiming many unemployed Pennsylvanians “are purposefully remaining unemployed in order to collect benefits”, demonstrates how out of touch he is with the working families of our Commonwealth. Since becoming the Republican candidate for Governor, Tom Corbett has continually taken positions that lead on to believe he lives in a different Pennsylvania than the rest of us.

In Tom Corbett’s Pennsylvania there is no need for unemployment benefits because there are plenty of jobs for everyone. In Tom Corbett’s Pennsylvania there is no need for healthcare reform because the current healthcare system is working just fine. In Tom Corbett’s Pennsylvania we don’t need millions of dollars of federal stimulus money because we don’t need jobs and our roads, bridges and schools don’t need improvement. Hanging-out at fundraisers with oil and gas company executives, Wall Street bankers and other wealthy Republican contributors, Tom Corbett sees a different Pennsylvania than the rest of us.

Tom Corbett needs to visit the Pennsylvania we live in and immediately apologize the unemployed workers he insulted with his inconsiderate remarks.

And here’s the AFL-CIO’s:

Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Richard Bloomingdale is astonished to hear that Tom Corbett a candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania believes that any of the 590,000 unemployed workers in Pennsylvania would much rather stay at home that to go to work.

Where Tom Corbett was canvassing when he made the remark, in Lancaster County, the Labor Department reported last month that the unemployment rate rose above 8 percent or over 25,000 workers.

“Unemployed workers would rather be working, feeding their families and paying the mortgage than living with the uncertainty of not having a job, earning less than half their wages and going without health care and pensions,” Bloomingdale said.

“We are asking Tom Corbett to tell us where are the jobs. Unemployment in the building and construction industry is at 30 percent in some areas of the State and the statewide unemployment is over 9 percent and higher in many counties,” Bloomingdale said.

“We invite Tom Corbett to sit down with unemployed workers and find out what it is like to live without a job. Unemployed workers are looking for work every day. The problem is that for every job opening there are many unemployed workers.

Democratic candidate Dan Onorato is holding a Capitol press conference on the subject in about twenty minutes, so more to come on this.

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.

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