Thursday, June 16, 2011

PA Unemployment Falls a Notch

Although the state’s unemployment rate dropped only slightly from April to May, the number of jobless Pennsylvanians has decreased 1.3% from this time last year.

In what Department of Labor & Industry spokesman Christopher Manlove calls a “mixed bag” of statistics, resident employment fell by 6,000, but the number of unemployed residents was also down by 7,000 over the past month. The unemployment rate slid .1%, to 7.4%.

Manlove says nine of the eleven job “supersectors” have gained jobs over the past year, but eight of them lost ground from April to May. However, he says it’s important to consider that fact in a broader context.

“The decrease in May jobs followed an April increase of 23,900, and that was the second-largest gain in Pennsylvania jobs since 1997,” says Manlove. “So when you see that kind of very large increase followed by a considerable decrease, it could be that it’s due to a shifting seasonal pattern.”

But the Keystone Research Center says the loss of 14,000 jobs in May "raises serious concerns" about a renewed weakness in the economy, both nationally and on a state level.

"With unemployment still high and economic growth slow going, the economic climate in Pennsylvania is translating into severe hardship for tens of thousands of unemployed and underemployed workers across the state," says KRC Labor Economist Mark Price.

Price says state lawmakers should "tap all available revenues" to limit budget cuts and save state-funded jobs.

The Government supersector has experienced the largest yearly drop, losing 33,100 jobs since May 2010. The only other division to experience a yearly decline was Financial Activities (comprising real estate, banking, and insurance jobs); that supersector lost just 100 jobs.

Manlove says the Mining & Logging division continued to gain jobs, making it the fastest-growing sector in the state. He says that is due in large part to Marcellus Shale-related industries.

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