Share This Page

Region's economy gaining as jobless rate falls in April to 7.1%

| Wednesday, May 29, 2013, 10:06 a.m.

Employers in the Pittsburgh region added 3,200 jobs in April, signaling that a recovery of the labor market is gaining momentum, experts said on Wednesday.

A state Department of Labor & Industry report showed the seven-county region with 1.17 million jobs last month, 10,600 more than in April 2012. The figures are based on a survey of employers and adjusted to reflect seasonal fluctuations.

“This report packs a little more punch than previous reports,” said Kurt Rankin, an economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh. “It looks like the summer months are shaping up as expected with a jobs recovery that's gaining steam.”

The unemployment rate fell slightly to 7.1 percent in April, when warmer weather coaxed hiring in construction and the leisure and hospitality industries.

The regional unemployment rate was 7.1 percent a year ago, too. The rate in March was 7.2 percent, a revision of the 7.3 percent rate the agency initially reported.

The region's construction industry added 2,200 jobs in April, while leisure and hospitality employers added 5,700 jobs. The rising employment in those sectors was a reflection of significantly higher consumer confidence reported by the Conference Board this week.

Professional and business services employment increased by 4,400. The manufacturing sector added 600 jobs last month, its best showing since August, when employment increased by 1,000. Data by sector are not seasonally adjusted.

Rankin noted that construction, professional services and manufacturing are “high-paying industries.”

Another sign of economic recovery was growth in the labor market, which consists of people employed or actively looking for a job. The labor force increased 1,500 to almost 1.26 million people in April.

“We're adding workers in this marketplace, and they are finding jobs,” Rankin said.

Total employment reached a record high 1,169,800 jobs, after adjusting for seasonal fluctuations, a gain of 10,600 from year-ago levels.

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

In addition, the number of unemployed in the Pittsburgh region dropped by 2,000 to 89,100 from March to April, according to a survey of residents. The unemployed numbered 88,400 in April 2012, or 700 fewer than last month.

The nation's jobless rate in April declined one-tenth of a percentage point to 7.5 percent, and Pennsylvania's rate fell three-tenths of a point to 7.6 percent.

“Pittsburgh's economy has been consistently better than the nation's economy as a whole,” said Antony Davies, associate professor of economics at Duquesne University.

“Pittsburghers sat on sidelines during the real estate bubble, so they didn't have the hangover the next day from the bust like the rest of the country did,” Davies said.

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

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.