Morning Must Reads: Austerity Economics for the Disabled In Pennsylvania

The Delaware County Daily Times interviews people impacted by the elimination of General Assistance in Pennsylvania.

Jim Leach said he is one of more than 60,000 Pennsylvanians affected by state legislators’ decision to eliminate a cash assistance program.

Back in February, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett proposed eliminating the General Assistance cash program. His plan was included in the budget approved by state legislators in late June...

Leach said he had been receiving the benefits for about four years after losing a job as a line cook at the Lincoln Financial Field. Leach said a doctor deemed him unfit to work due to multiple physical and mental health issues.

Leach is temporarily staying with a relative while he waits for a local shelter to approve his request for a bed. He said the little money he received through the state program — about $205 a month 
 went toward his doctor’s appointments and transportation to get to the appointments.

While state officials said the elimination of this program will save about $150 million annually, advocates fear what will happen to Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable residents, including about 1,700 in Delaware County.

People who qualified for GA included disabled or sick adults without children, domestic violence survivors, adults caring for someone who is sick or disabled, and adults participating in alcohol and other drug treatment programs. The program, which ended Aug. 1, served residents since the Great Depression.

The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) maintained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides employment estimates based on data collected from the Unemployment Insurance system. The data constitute a near census of employment but are only available with a long lag. The most current data are from December 2011.

Below are three tables detailing employment change overall (Table 1), employment change in state government (Table 2) and employment change in local government (Table 3). According to these data, the public sector in Pennsylvania shed 25,246 jobs in 2011, with more than 2,500 of those job losses occurring in Federal and State employment. Most of the public-sector job loss was in local government, which shed 20,052 jobs in 2011. As you can see in Table 3, most of those job losses were in Elementary and Secondary schools.

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