Taxes & flight: Pa.'s sad tale


Incumbent state lawmakers running for re-election this year — especially old-timers who have put down roots in Harrisburg — won't be singing the praises of the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report on Pennsylvania's economy.

It's about as dark and gloomy as any December day.

In the last two months, the state lost more than 23,000 nonfarm jobs. Unemployment over the same period rose 0.6 percent, sidelining 43,900 more Pennsylvanians and pushing the state's unemployment rate to 5.5 percent (compared with the nation's rate of 4.9 percent).

Even more disturbing is the continuing exodus from Penn's Wood. More than 41,000 residents bid adieu to Pennsylvania last year, continuing a trend that since 1992 has seen 295,000 Pennsylvanians pack their bags. So it's no surprise that the commonwealth ranks 46th nationwide in population growth.

And with that loss, a cost: In adjusted gross income between 1992 and 2014, the state lost $11.6 billion per year, according to the Commonwealth Foundation.

It's no coincidence that states with the highest tax burden (Pennsylvania comes in 15th nationwide) have seen the most migration over the last five years.

Pennsylvania, in its attempt to tax itself to prosperity, has taxed itself to mediocrity. There it will remain until state lawmakers reduce the tax burden.