Rise in Western Pa. jobless rate signals slowdown in economy
Unemployment in the Pittsburgh region edged higher in December to 7.3 percent as area employers chopped 3,500 jobs during the month, a state report issued on Monday said.
Jobs at employers in the seven-county area slid to 1,176,500 last month from 1,180,000 in November, according to the state Department of Labor and Industry.
Economists said the drop-off of 3,500 jobs mostly related to seasonal factors, such as a decrease in construction employment in colder weather and temporary layoffs at colleges for the holiday break. The figures come from a survey of employers.
“This report rounds out 2012 concisely: Growth slowed and even declined over the course of the year,” said Kurt Rankin, an economist at PNC Financial Services Group.
Rankin described the region's economy as currently “moving sideways.”
December's jobless rate rose by one-tenth of percentage point from 7.2 percent in November. The region's unemployment rate, which reflects seasonal adjustments, stood at 7.0 percent in December 2011.
“The unemployment rate is flat, just moving a tenth here and there,” the economist said. “Pittsburgh is not going anywhere. Its economy has stalled.”
Rankin projects the region's unemployment rate is unlikely to decline much until about mid-year.
In addition, the number of unemployed people rose by 900 to 92,000 last month from 91,000 in November on a seasonally adjusted basis. That data comes from a separate survey of residents.
Jake Haulk, economist and president of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, Castle Shannon, said year-over-year job growth totals fell with each new quarter last year on an unadjusted basis. The average number of jobs in first-quarter 2012 was 22,000 higher than a year before. But by the fourth quarter, year-over-year growth dwindled to 9,500.
“We've had a dramatic slowing in the growth rate,” Haulk said.
The economist noted college and university jobs fell by 1,600 in December from year-ago levels, and social assistance jobs were down by 900. Those job drops were offset by a 4,300-job pickup in professional and technical employment, which Haulk said was “sustaining at a pretty strong pace.”
The seven-county region covers Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
Thomas Olson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7854 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Bayer plastics unit may be gone
- U.S. Steel shares jump on turnaround strategy
- Investors applaud central bank’s decision
- Fed not budging on rate increase
- UPMC buying New Castle-based Jameson Health System
- Consol, Noble expect at least $325 million from partnership’s IPO
- Mylan CEO Bresch sets sights on growth
- Tobacco growers forced to find profits as buyout checks end in October
- Casing cracks, not fracking, blamed for gas in water wells
- 2 top executives at Dick’s Sporting Goods to retire
- FedEx to add 50,000 seasonal jobs