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Pennsylvania's jobless rate falls to 8.1% as many give up looking for work

| Friday, March 22, 2013, 7:39 p.m.

Pennsylvania's unemployment rate declined to 8.1 percent in February, the state Department of Labor and Industry reported Friday, largely because of a decrease in the number of people who stopped looking for work.

The drop in the unemployment rate, from 8.2 percent in January, belied numbers on job creation that signaled a tough market for unemployed workers. Employers gained a mere 600 jobs in February, the department said.

“The 600 was not impressive at all,” said Mark Price, labor economist for the Keystone Research Center in Harrisburg.

The decrease in the unemployment rate was mostly because the labor force declined by 13,000, economists said. A decline in the labor force, which means people working or seeking a job, makes the ratio of jobless appear healthier.

The number of unemployed in Pennsylvania fell by 5,000 from January to 532,000 last month, according to figures that are adjusted to reflect seasonal fluctuations.

Manufacturing was the biggest gainer, adding 4,400 jobs. But that was offset by 5,200 job losses in education and health services.

U.S. unemployment was 7.7 percent in February. The state jobless rate was 7.6 percent in February 2012.

The seven-county Pittsburgh jobless rate for February is not yet available. The rate stood at 7.5 percent in January.

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

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