State jobless rate slips as more people leave workforce
Employment in Pennsylvania reached the highest level in almost six years last month as companies picked up the pace of hiring.
But even with the addition of 24,700 nonfarm jobs in May and a drop in the unemployment rate by a tenth of a percentage point to 5.6 percent, the lowest level since September 2008, economists were less than sanguine about Pennsylvania's recovery.
“It's better than it has been,” said Frank Gamrat, an economist with the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy in Castle Shannon.
Long-term job growth in Pennsylvania has been among the weakest in the nation, according to the Keystone Research Center in Harrisburg. After factoring in Friday's figures, the state ranked 33rd in the past 12 months and 48th since 2011, said Natalie Sabadish, a Keystone analyst.
Construction companies, business services, schools, health care and the leisure and hospitality sectors led the gains as statewide jobs climbed to 5.79 million in May, the highest since September 2008 and a 1.1 percent increase from a year ago, the state Department of Labor & Industry reported.
The unemployment rate was well below the national rate of 6.3 percent. But the rate decreased, in part, because of a shrinking workforce and not because more people were finding jobs. About 12,000 Pennsylvanians dropped out of the workforce. People who have stopped looking for work are not counted as unemployed, and this can artificially lower the unemployment rate.
“There's still a lot of uncertainty out there in the minds of the citizens, and that starts to bleed into the economy,” Gamrat said.
Still, job growth in May continued the positive momentum from April, in which revised figures showed that companies added 12,300 jobs.
Hotels, restaurants and recreation businesses have been a bright spot in the past year, adding 6,800 jobs in May and 20,100 from a year ago. While some workers may be discouraged, many Pennsylvanians seem to be feeling positive enough to go out and spend money on recreation, Gamrat said.
“Leisure and hospitality has been strong, regionally as well as statewide,” Gamrat said. “I think there's maybe some optimism in that area.”
Though private sector job growth has picked up this year, government employers have cut staff amid state budget cuts, especially in education. Public-sector jobs have declined 6.2 percent since January 2010, Sabadish said.
“Public sector jobs have fallen a lot since the recession and so have manufacturing jobs, and that puts us at a pretty low ranking,” Sabadish said.
Chris Fleisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7854 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.
- Chevron settles fatal shale gas well fire lawsuit for $5M
- Task force to plot ways of easing gas glut in Pennsylvania via pipelines
- IRS cybersecurity breach touches lives of homebuyers, others
- Pitt study suggests health law attracting young to balance insurers’ risks
- UPMC offering buyouts to 3,500 employees in cost-cutting move
- Shoppers pay premium for organic chicken
- Many Americans have no retirement savings, Fed survey shows
- Tesla home battery at $7K, partnered with rooftop solar system, may help reduce power bills
- Automakers do U-turn on infotainment systems
- Apple finds bug that causes iPhones to crash
- Stocks bounce back from losses on reassurance from Greece