October jobless rate falls in Pittsburgh area

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The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area declined by one-tenth of one percentage point from 6.8 percent in September to 6.7 percent in October, according to the state Department of Labor and Industry.

That puts the rate back to where it stood in July, when unemployment hit its lowest level since the end of the Great Recession.

Fewer people reported that they are working, but the unemployment rate fell because more people also dropped out of the workforce and are no longer included in the jobless count. With 1.25 million now in the local labor force, there are fewer people either working or looking for work in the region than there has been since June 2012.

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The Pittsburgh metropolitan statistical area is defined as the seven-county region that surrounds the city of Pittsburgh: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

The number of people in the region who were working fell by 5,600 from September to October, even as the size of the labor force fell by 4,000 workers.

Still, there was good news, as the state counted 7,700 more jobs in the region in October than in September and 20,200 more than in October 2012.

The local unemployment update is the first since the U.S. government shut down in the midst of federal budget battles, and the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, in its release Thursday, pretty much ignored the September numbers, which had not been previously reported. Most of the year-over year gains can be accounted for by the 19,400 jobs added since August.

The September job data, not seasonally-adjusted, showed a bump of 11,700 jobs as schools and universities gained positions. In the two months covered in the new report from the state, the public schools added 10,600 jobs, while colleges and universities gained 9,900 jobs.

Year-over-year numbers were not as good. Public schools have cut 600 jobs since October 2012, while colleges and universities added 1,000 jobs.

The manufacturing sector lost 100 jobs from September to October and was down by 1,200 jobs since October 2012.

Health services and social assistance continued to add jobs, with an additional 1,300 for October that translated to a gain of 5,200 jobs for the year.

Ann Belser: abelser@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1699.

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