The Great Recession and the slow economic recovery that followed have hit Pennsylvania families hard. Unemployment in the commonwealth remains high, and many people are struggling to make ends meet. In February, Pennsylvania's unemployment rate stood at 6.2%, one-half of a percentage point below the U.S. rate of 6.7%.
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How does hydro-fracking affect the rural communities at the epicenter of drilling activity? A rich body of literature on the human impacts and lore exists from the Mountain West: of boomtowns and bar fights, and rising rents and rising crime that accompanied oil and gas development in Wyoming and Colorado in the 1980s and 1990s, and more recently in North Dakota shale oil fields.
Considerable evidence indicates that shale development has followed a similar trajectory in Pennsylvania. Work from academic researchers and advocacy groups such as Food and Water Watch, and our own indepth examination of two high-intensity Pennsylvania drilling counties (Greene and Tioga) document increased traffic, damaged roads, rising rents, and intensified demands on police and local first responders.
National payrolls grew a bit faster than expectations in February, but the unemployment rate climbed to 6.7%. Meanwhile, in a separate state jobs report, Pennsylvania payrolls grew by a disappointing 500 jobs in January, while the unemployment rate declined four-tenths of one percentage point to 6.4%.