Rutgers study says soda tax has not cost jobs in city

A new study from Rutgers economists shows the Philadelphia sweetened beverage tax created at least as many jobs as it cost in the four-and-a-half years since it passed.

The study confirms two prior studies that found the tax had no net effect on overall employment in the city. The study's chief author, economist Michael Lahr, says there were job losses in the distribution and trucking sectors.

"There’s no doubt they suffered, but we did find out that they were counteracted by [many] more jobs in day care and related industries," said Lahr.

The $.015-per-gallon tax has been used to fund pre-kindergarten, community schools and the rebuilding of city facilities.

Lahr said that in addition to the jobs those programs created, the pre-K program provided an additional employment benefit.

"Usually mothers, but often fathers, too. It released them into the work force," Lahr said.

The beverage industry is unimpressed with the findings, emphasizing the losses among its own workers.

Lahr said the reason distributors suffered is that they passed the tax along to consumers, who responded to higher prices by drinking less soda.

But for Lahr, that’s another benefit of the tax, that low-income residents may become healthier.

"We did this to cigarettes," Lahr said, "and people didn't complain about cigarette jobs."

From KYW Newsradio