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Pa. jobless rate ticks lower to 8.1%

| Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

The state's unemployment rate in October was 8.1 percent, down slightly from 8.2 percent in September.

The civilian labor force also grew last month, adding 31,000 people and reaching a record high of 4.93 million, according to the state Department of Labor and Industry.

The labor force measures the number of people who have jobs or are actively looking for work, but not unemployed people who have given up searching for a job.

“This was the second-largest single-month increase on record, signaling renewed confidence in the Pennsylvania economy,” the department said in a statement.

Although the increase in the labor force from the government's household survey is encouraging, there's very little in the employer survey to be optimistic about, said Frank Gamrat, an economist with the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, a Castle Shannon think tank.

The employer survey showed that the state's businesses added 7,500 jobs in October, a 0.1 percent increase to a total of 5,752,200 nonfarm jobs across the state.

“There's nothing from September to October that leads me to believe the Pennsylvania economy is growing,” Gamrat said.

On the goods-producing side, a slight gain in manufacturing jobs was canceled by a loss in construction jobs.

Among the service businesses, small gains in transportation, health care and education were offset by declines in hospitality and government workers.

Alex Nixon is a staff writer forTrib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or anixon@tribweb.com.

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