Region's economy gaining as jobless rate falls in April to 7.1%
By Thomas Olson
Published: 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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