The Washington Times - May 1, 2013, 11:07AM

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, already lagging in the polls, is taking heat for his claim that the state’s unemployment rate remains higher than the national average in part because too many of his constituents are on drugs.

“There are many employers that say we’re looking for people but can’t find anyone who has passed a drug test. That’s a concern for me,” Mr. Corbett, a first-term Republican, said in an interview with earlier this week.


Mr. Corbett made the comments after being questioned about his record on job creation. Despite a vibrant and growing oil and natural gas industry, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate remains stubbornly high — 7.9 percent in March. The U.S. jobless rate is 7.6 percent.

A recent report from Arizona State University also alleged that Pennsylvania has slipped from seventh to 49th out of 50 states in job creation. The governor and other Republicans vehemently dispute those figures, but Democrats already are using them to bash Mr. Corbett.

His potential opponents in the 2014 gubernatorial election also are taking aim at the suggestion that Pennsylvanians’ penchant for narcotics is hurting the state economy.

“This is the typical blame game from someone who doesn’t understand the economy and doesn’t understand how to create jobs,” said state Treasurer Rob McCord, one of several Democrats expected to run for governor next year. “Drug use is not the cause of the state’s lagging unemployment rate.”

Mr. McCord leads Mr. Corbett among Pennsylvania voters by 44 percent to 35 percent, according to the most recent Quinnipiac University poll. Former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak and current U.S. Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz, both expected to challenge Mr. McCord in the Democratic primary, also would defeat Mr. Corbett, the poll shows.

Mr. Sestak leads Mr. McCord 48 percent to 34 percent, while Mrs. Schwartz leads 47 percent to 34 percent, according to Quinnipiac.