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Pittsburgh area unemployment rate rises

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By Thomas Olson
Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 12:27 p.m.
 

Pittsburgh area employers shed 31,900 jobs in January, pushing the region's unemployment rate up to 7.5 percent, the state Department of Labor and Industry said Tuesday.

The seven-county region's jobless rate increased from 7.3 percent in December but remained below state and national unemployment rates.

“That 31,900 is a big number and sort of scary-looking,” said Jake Haulk, an economist and president of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, Castle Shannon. “But the drop is largely seasonal,” which is to be expected.

The increase joblessness was driven largely by a loss of 6,900 retailing jobs after the holidays.

In addition, the region lost 5,900 government jobs in January, 3,900 leisure and hospitality industry jobs, 3,800 education and health services jobs, and 3,000 administrative and waste services jobs.

The sector data comes from a survey of employers and is not adjusted for seasonal fluctuations.

Statewide unemployment increased to 8.2 percent in January from 7.9 percent in December. The national jobless rate rose to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent.

Kurt Rankin, an economist at PNC Financial Services Group, said the December-January decline “is not something to be overly concerned about” because he expects significant gains in February, March and April, which is the time of year when hiring generally picks up.

Haulk added that from January 2012 to this past January, the region added 10,100 private-sector jobs, which he called, “a pretty good increase.”

According to a separate survey of area households, 1,173,800 people were working in January, down from 1,176,100 the month before. The results are adjusted to account for seasonal fluctuations.

About 95,200 people were not working in the Pittsburgh region in January, compared with 92,000 in December. That data is seasonally adjusted.

The Pittsburgh region covers Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

The region's unemployment rate stood at 6.9 percent in January 2012.

Thomas Olson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7854 or at tolson@tribweb.com.

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