Tuesday, March 3, 2009
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor says the state’s economy shed 3,500 jobs in January. That is much less than the 20,000 jobs lost in the previous two months. However, Mark Price of the Keystone Research Center says that may not be as hopeful as it looks. He says the Department of Labor “seasonally adjusts” the unemployment data to smooth out some of the cyclical trends in the marketplace. He says that includes making an assumption that people will get laid off from the retail sector every January following a big holiday hiring season. Price says this year fewer people lost their jobs not because the economy was growing but because they were never hired in the first place. He says the unusual circumstances lead to the jobs report showing a gain of 4,500 retails jobs. Price says, “Adjusting the January numbers upwards creates an appearance of job growth that is probably not real.” Price says the state’s economy will continue to see job loss and increases in unemployment in the months to come. He says the federal stimulus program could temper the slide, but it will not reverse the trend. The center predicts job losses through the end of the year.