Joblessness nears 17-year high in region
The drumbeat of bad economic news for the Pittsburgh region continued in May with the unemployment rate rising to the highest level in nearly 17 years, the state said Tuesday.
May's unemployment rate rose to 7.5 percent, the highest since July 1992, when it was 7.4 percent, the state said.
The rate was 0.2 percentage point higher than April, and 2.6 percentage points higher than a year ago, when it was 4.9 percent.
"The jobs data appears to be pointing to a deepening recession in the spring months. It's an economy that has some problems. I don't know when this going to pick up," said Jake Haulk, an economist and president of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, a think tank in Castle Shannon.
The ranks of the unemployed in the Pittsburgh region swelled by about 6,700 more workers in May, increasing to 89,800.
That was nearly 33,000 more people unemployed than in May 2008, when there were 56,900 on the jobless rolls, the state's Center for Workforce Information and Analysis said.
More people were looking for work last month as the civilian labor force increased by 6,600 to 1.229 million. The civilian labor force includes the employed and people looking for work.
Employment among residents in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties rose to 1.137 million, up 3,300 from April, but far less than the May 2008 level of 1.160 million.
The region's May jobless rate was below Pennsylvania's rate of 8.2 percent and the national jobless rate of 9.4 percent.
More unemployed workers has resulted in more people using PA CareerLink centers in the region to find jobs, state officials said, although not all of the job seekers are unemployed.
"We've seen an increase in activity in the past few months. We're seeing about 400 to 500 people a week, and that's about 10 to 12 percent more than this time last year," said Anthony Gebicki, site administrator for the PA CareerLink office in Youngwood.
James Hann, site administrator at the PA CareerLink office in Forest Hills, said that office has noticed a steady increase in job seekers, so much so that sometimes people are waiting in lines to get onto a computer to conduct a job search.
Despite the lingering recession, Gebicki said the CareerLink still is getting requests from employers seeking to fill jobs. The center has about 225 job orders this week, an increase from this spring, but far below the 400 job orders it was receiving a year ago, Gebicki said.
The number of nonfarm jobs actually increased in May to 1,129,000, up 6,700 from April, but the region is down 33,600 jobs compared to May 2008.
The jobs report showed that manufacturing employment in May dropped to 89,800, down 900 jobs from April, and 9,200 fewer jobs than in May 2008.
"Manufacturing is taking a wallop. The loss of high-paying jobs, you can't ignore it," said Haulk, adding that it is not likely to get better until the national and world economies improve.
One of the bright spots in the economy in May was service-providing companies, which added 5,200 jobs from April, with leisure and hospitality gearing up for the tourism season by adding 6,000 jobs. But Haulk pointed out that leisure and hospitality is down 7,100 jobs compared to May 2008.
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.