Barack Obama recently told a San Francisco fundraising audience that the reason he couldn’t beat Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania was because the people who lived in small towns there were “bitter” and chose to “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them” instead of embracing Barack Obama. There are so many things wrong with this statement, but we’ll focus on just one: things have been getting better in Pennsylvania, not worse.

Heritage scholar Ambassador Terry Miller looks at data from the Census Bureau’s Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI) and notes:

How are Pennsylvanians doing? The picture is surprisingly good. Total employment rose from 5,486,213 in 2005 to 5,566,049 in 2006, the latest year for which full data are available. Average monthly earnings rose too, from $3,359 in 2005 to $3,509 in 2006. Growth in jobs and incomes was widespread across the state. Forty of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties showed gains in both categories, and 21 of the others showed gains in incomes but not in the number of jobs.

Over a longer period, the data are even more compelling and more positive. The QWI don’t cover Senator Obama’s 25-year time span, but they do cover a full decade.

  • Total employment in Pennsylvania rose 7 percent from 1997 to 2006.
  • Average monthly earnings rose over 31 percent, from $2,672 to $3,509.
  • At the beginning of the decade, the Pennsylvania unemployment rate was 4.7 percent; it dropped to 4.4 percent by the end of 2006.
  • Only 11 counties showed a decrease in jobs; and the hardest-hit, Northumberland County, lost only 2,186 jobs, almost exactly mirroring a drop in population in the county between the 1990 and 2000 censuses.
  • No county in Pennsylvania suffered a loss in average salary between 1997 and 2006.