Independent mayoral candidate Kevin Acklin criticized Mayor Luke Ravenstahl today for running an advertisement touting the city's unemployment numbers, saying it is "hurtful and offensive to the the thousands of Pittsburghers" looking for work.
Unemployment numbers issued yesterday showed the Pittsburgh region's unemployment rate reached 8.1 percent in September, its highest rate in 23 years.
The report from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry showed the rate in the city itself is 7.6 percent -- that's below the statewide rate of 8.8 percent and the nationwide rate of 9.8 percent. Mr. Ravenstahl's camp notes the city is doing better than both the state and the nation in his ad, which was also broadcast before the May primary.
"This is just another example of Kevin's inability to understand statistics -- but you can't play politics with simple numbers," responded Ravenstahl campaign manager Paul McKrell. "In the midst of a worldwide economic crisis, more Pittsburghers are working -- and Mayor Ravenstahl is committed to continuing to invest in 21st century jobs for all Pittsburghers."
But Mr. Acklin said "I don't call an almost 8 percent unemployment rate low or healthy, regardless what's happening across the country."
The mayoral election among the two men and another independent, Dok Harris, is Tuesday.
Mr. Harris said today that Pittsburgh did not see much job growth before the recession, which makes the city's job loss numbers look better now. "No party, no hangover," he said.
People in the city's poorest neighborhoods are still struggling, even if jobs have been maintained elsewhere, he contined.
"The problem with Pittsburgh when you're talking about job numbers is that while on the whole they look good, our neighborhoods are full of haves and have-nots," Mr. Harris said.
First Published October 28, 2009 4:15 PM