Employers cut payrolls in region by 4,700 jobs in August, state says
Employers in the Pittsburgh region cut payrolls by 4,700 jobs in August and the unemployment rate rose slightly, ending six months of declines, the state said on Tuesday.
The figures underscore concerns by economists that the recovery in the job market remains anemic.
“There's not any redeeming quality in this report,” said Kurt Rankin, an economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh.
Construction was the only major sector that continued to show strength, but it didn't offset declines elsewhere, he said.
The jobless rate in the seven-county region rose 0.10 of a percentage point to 6.8 percent, according to a survey of households by the state Department of Labor and Industry. The figures are seasonally adjusted.
In August, the statewide jobless rate rose 0.20 to 7.7 percent compared with a 0.10 decline in the national rate to 7.3 percent.
In the Pittsburgh region, construction and associated specialty trades added 2,000 jobs in August. Rankin said those jobs are higher paying, and an improvement in that sector “suggests that Pittsburgh will continue to build — you see it Downtown and on the highways — and projects will continue over the next 12 to 18 months.”
But the region lost jobs in education and health services, which fell by 1,400 jobs, along with seasonal declines in health care and social assistance, down 600 jobs. The leisure and hospitality sector declined to 120,700 in August, down 1,900 from the previous month and the first drop for the tourist industry since February, the state report said. Local government jobs dropped by 1,000, evenly split between educational and noneducational services. Payroll jobs, not seasonally adjusted, are determined by a separate survey of employers.
One month up or down is not a concern, Rankin said, and it's not unusual for the region to experience late-summer employment declines.
Last year, August was the low point, then jobs increased as the year closed.
“I don't think the Pittsburgh economy has weakened to the point of undoing the recent trend in job gains. I'd have to see weakness in another report or two to see that,” Rankin said.
Rankin said the effect on the economy of Tuesday's federal government shutdown will be minimal.
He foresees that “government workers will receive back pay, so essentially it's a paid vacation.”
As a result, their incomes will not disappear from the economy, even if the shutdown lasts for a week or two.
That's unlike the damage to the economy caused this year by spending cuts, known as the sequester, and increases in payroll taxes passed by Congress, both of which reduced economic activity.
Back pay for shutdown days would require an act of Congress. Workers were compensated for the last federal shutdown in 1995 and 1996.
The region consists of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
Butler County had the lowest jobless rate at 6.5 percent, while Armstrong County had the highest at 8.6 percent.
Unemployment rates in Pennsylvania's 67 counties ranged from 5.8 percent in Montour County to 11.3 percent in Cameron County.
John D. Oravecz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7882 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.
- Retailer rolls dice on TargetExpress
- EPA failing to stop natural gas pipeline leaks, internal watchdog says
- Car dealers find silver lining in cloud of vehicle recalls
- Economists cite signs of strength
- Export-Import Bank in dispute in Congress
- Citizens Bank parent says 6-month profit doubles
- 2 cars put 50 mpg in rearview
- China pork giant WH Group makes 2nd IPO attempt
- Plug-in Accord makes gas station visits rare
- Gas pipeline issues challenge for producers, users
- Engine that quits a mystery