Pennsylvania Gov. Blames Employee Drug Testing On Job Creation Woes

By McCarton Ackerman 10/20/14

Gov. Corbett thinks his poor jobs record has something to do with employees not taking drug tests.

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Pennsylvania is currently 47th among U.S. states when it comes to job creation, but Gov. Tom Corbett thinks employee drug testing is the reason companies are not able to fill jobs.

Speaking to the PennLive editorial board last week in Harrisburg, Corbett said that companies can’t find employees who are able or willing to pass drug tests. The statement is similar to what he said in an April 2013 interview that made headlines, but he has mainly relied on anecdotal evidence from the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association (PMP) to back up his claim.

However, that organization refuted his statement after hiring a polling firm to survey 200 executives from manufacturing businesses throughout the state. Their findings concluded that “for most companies, drug testing did not lead to a large percentage of potential employees refusing to take a drug test or show up for a drug test."

A “small percentage” of applicants, 16% in total, failed their drug tests, while 19% refused to take one. The report did acknowledge that these numbers were still “a red flag and a real concern for employers.”

The drug concerns aren’t entirely surprising given that it’s easier and cheaper for young people in the state to buy heroin than a six-pack of beer. Small bags of heroin are being sold for as little as $5 to$10, which is contributing to the ongoing rise in overdose deaths each year throughout the state. State Representative Richard Marabito said there are about 766,000 residents with addiction problems, but only 52,000 are currently receiving treatment.

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania has listed several recommendations for correcting this problem in a report released last month. Among them are making it easier to prosecute dealers whose clients die of overdoses and instilling a “Good Samaritan” law so that those who seek help for overdose victims won’t face criminal charges.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.