A recent op-ed in the New York Post noted that the unemployment rate in 50 of New York's 62 counties is now above the national rate. In the Southern Tier alone, the jobless rate averages 9.5 percent.
While the unemployment situation in New York is no secret, the opine points out that it's "frustrating" to compare apples to apples with neighboring Pennsylvania. Case in point is the contrast between trends in Tioga County and those just across the border in Bradford County, PA.
While employment in Bradford County has grown steadily in recent years, it has fallen in Tioga. In fact, Bradford boasts an unemployment rate of 5.7 percent, well below the national rate of 8.3 percent, while Tioga stands at 9.5 percent (and next-door Broome County, NY, is at 9.7 percent).
Unemployment drops literally as soon as you cross the border from New York to the Keystone State.
The Pennsylvania and New York counties share many common characteristics; how is it that the jobs picture is so dramatically better on the Keystone State side of the border?
For starters, Pennsylvania has developed its shale-gas industry, while New York's de facto ban on natural-gas development is choking off valuable economic growth.
It's not just mining jobs that the "frac'ing" ban kills; Pennsylvania recently secured a huge ethanol-cracker plant that Gov. Tom Corbett called the largest investment in the state in two generations.
This $2 billion facility will create 10,000 construction jobs and 600 high-paying permanent jobs, according to the American Chemistry Council. As Corbett noted, "There will be new jobs in engineering, manufacturing, chemistry and energy for decades to come."
These high-paying, skilled jobs are the kind that New York's elected officials say they want to attract to the state.
Neighboring states are winning business, jobs and investment, even outside of direct gas exploration, because they're updating gas regulations (while still protecting their environment) to promote the growth of gas-development and other industries.
In contrast, by delaying development of our own resources in the Marcellus Shale, New York is denying employment opportunities and stalling economic growth for local communities and the entire state.
Plus, New York school districts and local governments are missing out on greater tax revenues and fees that could support investments in education, infrastructure and economic development.
Responsible pro-growth policies are the most direct way of reaching such important social goals as successful classrooms, higher employment and, ultimately, thriving communities.