Press release

Pennsylvania Annual Unemployment Rate Is Highest In Nearly 30 Years

Pittsburgh-The newly released national June jobs report showed 200,000 people joined the unemployment lines last month. In Pennsylvania, where the annual unemployment rate is the highest it has been in nearly three decades and state tuition/student debt is on the rise, the state's low- and middle-income families are in danger of disappearing.

A new report, "Under Attack: Pennsylvania's Middle Class and the Job Crisis," outlines these growing challenges facing millions of Pennsylvanians.

Download "Under Attack: Pennsylvania's Middle Class and the Job Crisis"

The report, co-published by Keystone Research Center and the national policy center Demos, outlines how Pennsylvanians are facing extreme budget cuts, declining access to benefits, higher costs to raise children and decreasing access to post-secondary credentials, among other trends.

Times are particularly difficult for Pennsylvania's young people, with state budget cuts to 18 percent of public university funding and a 7.5 percent tuition hike in Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education. This will only exacerbate the crisis of student debt among Pennsylvania's young people-approximately $28,000 on average-the 7th highest rate in the nation.

Quick Facts from the Report:

  • Pennsylvania's unemployment rate in 2010 (8.7%) was the highest rate in the state in 30 years.
  • At $10,761 for 2009-10, in-state tuition at Pennsylvania's colleges and universities is well above the national average of $6,829.
  • Nearly three out of four of college graduates in Pennsylvania entered the labor force with student debt in 2009, and their average debt-$27,066-was the 7th highest in the nation.

"Just as we built the middle class in the last century, expanding and strengthening the middle class today will require investments in the public structures that ensure individuals and businesses can flourish-our infrastructure, our schools and our colleges," said Tamara Draut, Vice President of Policy and Programs at Demos.

"Pennsylvania middle class families have been under attack since the early 1980s and now another generation is being forced onto a downward economic escalator," said economist Stephen Herzenberg of the Keystone Research Center. "It's past time for Washington and Harrisburg to turn the key on the escalator so that our middle class starts to move back up."

"The people of this country who are affected by this economic depression need and deserve a hand up," said Benita Johnson, a Pennsylvania worker who has been unemployed since May of 2010. "I don't understand how some members of Congress can sleep at night, when they vote to cut programs for children and the elderly while extending tax incentives for the wealthy. Anyone can point to government waste, inflame angry citizens, and demand cuts in government spending. But behind every cut are people who will lose their job, lose their ability to feed their families, lose their health care, and lose their self worth."

Contact & RSVP: 

Anna Pycior, apycior@demos.org(212) 389-1408

Lauren Strayer, lstrayer@demos.org(734) 904-1704

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