Defending Jobs Numbers, Corbett Cites Drug Test Failures (With Video)

Pa. Democrats are beside themselves with glee today, working to publicize a video of Gov. Tom Corbett citing failed drug tests as a factor in Pennsylvania’s unemployment.

“There are many employers who say, look, we’re looking for people but we can’t find anybody that has passed a drug test, a lot of them,” Corbett said during an interview with “And that’s a concern for me because we’re having a serious problem with that.” It’s at 3:40 in the video above.

Corbett jobs PA MattersThe Pa. Democratic Party says it’s the second time Corbett has unflatteringly characterized the unemployed.

For a few days during the 2010 campaign, it looked like Corbett’s win was less than inevitable. Those days occurred just after candidate Corbett made a very similar charge. He suggested workers were passing over available jobs to retain unemployment benefits.

Reported Scott Detrow at the time:

“One of the issues, and I hear it repeatedly – one of the individuals said, ‘I can’t get workers. People don’t want to come back to work while they still have unemployment.’’ He said. “They’re literally telling him, ‘I’ll come back to work when unemployment runs out.’ That’s becoming a problem.”

Corbett added, “The jobs are there. But if we keep extending unemployment, people are going to sit there and – I’ve literally had construction companies tell me, I can’t get people to come back to work until…they say, I’ll come back to work when unemployment runs out.”

Corbett’s liberal critics are hoping for a repeat in 2014. The push has already begun and netted a headline on ThinkProgress. Watch for a Huffington Post story and eventually, if Democrats are lucky, a spot on the Rachel Maddow Show. Then, about 10 emails from the party and its many candidates for Governor.


Update 2:30pm: We called it. Here is the Huffington Post article on the subject. And Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz was the first Democratic candidate for Governor to email a statement on the subject:

“Governor Corbett’s response to his own failed leadership on the economy shifts between making excuses and blaming and insulting the people of Pennsylvania. Either way, Pennsylvanians know it’s obviously time for a new governor.”


Update 8:00am: We were close! MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, rather than Rachel Maddow, lampooned Corbett Tuesday evening. At the 1:40 mark of this video.


The party has been all over Corbett since liberal columnist Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News publicized this spreadsheet, compiled by the business school at Arizona State University. It shows that Pa.’s rate of growth

The 13-to-49 number is problematic and PoliticsPA is investigating it for another report.

The premise of the video is Corbett rebutting the use of that charge. The reason Pa.’s rate of job growth is lower than other states, he says, is because Pa. had a shallower hole to dig out of post-recession.

“Other states were so far down that they grew – percentage-wise, in their area – fast. They had more ground to make up than we did,” he said.

“I don’t look at percents. I look at how many people we helped get back on payroll, and it’s 110,000.”

It’s stronger than the drug test explanation. The biggest problem with that argument: the burden of proof on Corbett to demonstrate that rates of drug use and drug test failures are significantly higher in Pa. than other states. If such numbers are similar nationally and the problem doesn’t impact Pa. disproportionately, it means every state dealt with and overcame a similar handicap.

But the Governor is on shaky ground vis-a-vis unemployment. In March, Pa. unemployment was 7.9% while the national rate was 7.6%.

Normally at or below the rest of the country, Pennsylvania’s unemployment bumped above the national rate in September 2012 and has stayed there every month since. It’s the longest time since July 2001 that Pa. unemployment has been above the national rate for more than one month at a time.

14 Responses

  1. There are so many things wrong with this. First, Drug Test Failure rate is lower in Pennsylvania than other states–for this argument to work Pennsylvania would have to have had a much higher incidence of drug test failures than other states. Are drug test failures a problem–probably–and no doubt the quick rush to defend this statement by statewide business groups is more an indication of the source of this idea than a verification of its accuracy.

    Not sure where the idea that 110,000 jobs were added comes from? Jobs have been slowly added back in Pennsylvania, that’s true. But according to this same website, we haven’t hit the high that was in 2007-2008 before the economic collapse.

    And its not exactly true that Pennsylvania normally Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is below the national average. Historically in fact, Pennsylvania had been above the national average and was often among the first in and the last out of a recession. But that historic trend was reversed at the beginning of the 21st Century. From early in the last decade through the end of the decade Pennsylvania had a better unemployment rate than the national average. It’s only in the past couple years that that has once again reversed and Pennsylvania has a higher unemployment rate and lags behind many other states in job creation. Not to be to Keynesian here, but major investments in infrastructure, education, energy and environment in the first decade of the 21st Century positioned Pennsylvania well to deal with two economic downturns during the decade. The question is has reversing course on making those kinds of investments eroded Pennsylvania’s ability to create jobs.

  2. Bob-

    Based on all your bizarre and inaccurate commentary, I’m afraid you are going to have to pee in a cup, and submit the results, before being allowed to post.


  3. Bob Guzzardi says the same stuff over and over…is he actually defending Corbett’s remarks…another admission by the GOP that the Great Ronald Reagan era war on drugs has failed? This furthers the point that we should legalize marijuana and stop testing for it to get Pennsylvanians back to work. And by the way…Corbett is showing himself to be a very damaged candidate…PAGOP must now gauge how huge a liability Corbett is to the down ticket republicans.

  4. I thought when Corbett was Attorney General he was going to clean up the streets from drugs. I guess he failed at that too.

  5. every small business person has had this experience with drug users applying for jobs. Of course, Democrats can’t be trusted with money and don’t create jobs…unless subsidized by taxpayers.

  6. It isn’t drug testing that keeps Pennsylvanian’s unemployed, its the higher age of our population.

    We have a lot of 50+ in our population and many of them are unemployed, thanks to downsizing and offshoring of jobs. These individuals have little chance of reentering the workforce due to age discrimination.

    Employers do not like to hire 50+ workers because of higher health care costs and the desire to hire the young and dumb. You can pay them less, abuse them more and get away with it.

  7. Corbett’s team, his Knight’s of the Round Table, and the PAGOP don’t need to be drug tested-they need to be tested for SIGNS OR LIFE!

  8. Phil-
    if Sestak gets in the race, he’ll produce a bankrupt Dem primary winner to get beat by Corbett (see results of 2010 senate race for example).

    The Dems need a primary winner with strong cash on hand entering the summer of 2014.

    Sestak’s would be better for taking back PA 7th (most gerrymandered).

  9. For a few days during the 2010 campaign, it looked like Corbett’s win was less than inevitable.

    Corbett was helped because Onorato was a horrible candidate. He’s not going to face a horrible candidate this time, because Democrats are like the sharks that smell blood in the water. If Sestak gets in the race, he’ll wipe the floor with “Corrupt” Corbett.

  10. Is that the only tie Corbett has? Every picture I see him in he is wearing that baby blue tie!

  • Who are you voting for in the PA Supreme Court race?

    • Dan McCaffery (61%)
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