Pennsylvania jobless rate drops below 7 percent for first time in 5 years
The state's unemployment rate in December dropped below 7 percent for the first time in nearly five years, a state labor market report released Friday showed, but the seemingly positive result masked disappointing signs.
The jobless rate fell not because Pennsylvanians were finding work but because many of them stopped looking for work last month and were not counted as unemployed.
Their exodus reduced the unemployment rate to 6.9 percent in December from 7.3 percent in November.
Also troubling: Employers shed 11,400 jobs, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry reported.
“I have two words for you: not pretty,” said Frant Gamrat, senior economist for the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy in Castle Shannon.
While one month's numbers don't make a trend, Gamrat said, the poor showing in December further illustrates the sluggishness of the state's economy in recent months.
The last time the rate was below 7 percent was January 2009, when it was 6.8 percent.
The unemployment rate, estimated from a survey of households, fell because the number of people counted as part of the civilian labor force declined by 15,000 to 6.44 million in December, compared with the month before. And over the year, 92,000 people left the labor force.
“People are getting discouraged and walking away,” Gamrat said.
Meanwhile, the state's employers reported 5.76 million total nonfarm jobs in December, down 11,400 from the month before. The jobs numbers come from a separate survey of employers.
Declines were seen in eight of 11 sectors of the economy, including construction, manufacturing, education and health services.
“We shouldn't be as alarmed as one month of data suggests (we should),” said Kurt Rankin, economist for PNC Financial Services Group, Downtown.
While December's employment data looked bad, Rankin said, he suspects the numbers will be revised to the positive in subsequent reports.
While growth has been sluggish or flat in recent months, there's been little to suggest a major downturn in the state's economy, he said.
“I'm not alarmed,” he said. “I suspect revisions are going to flatten that out.”
Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Alex Nixon to your Google+ circles.
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.
- Polamalu enters training camp as Steelers’ longest tenured player
- Starkey: Pirates, Burnett could work again
- Pa. auditor cites flaws in gas drilling regulation
- Victim of Monessen standoff committed suicide
- Outfielder Polanco driving force for Pirates in victory over Dodgers
- Freeport Invitational notebook: New title for FIBI founder
- Selig: Pirates’ rebirth a positive step for baseball
- Mountaineer workers fear smoking ban will harm ‘livelihood’
- Elizabeth police under new leadership
- Pirates notebook: Phillies’ Burnett not demanding trade
- Allegheny County warns of uptick in Lyme disease cases