Pennsylvania unemployment drops in November

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The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania dropped in November to 7.3 percent from 7.5 percent in October, while the number of jobs in the state grew by 9,700.

Pennsylvania was one of the 26 states that the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted had statistically significant unemployment rate changes in a month-over-month comparison.

But what looked like it might be a sign of an improving economy was not, because the shrinking rate of unemployment was due to more workers dropping out of the labor force and no longer looking for work rather than people finding jobs.

Pennsylvania's unemployment rate remains above the U.S. level, which was 7 percent in November. The gap between Pennsylvania and the rest of the country grew from two-tenths of a percentage point to three-tenths.

The state reported that the labor force, which had been growing earlier in the year, fell by 14,000 workers, an indication that many stopped looking for work.

Meanwhile, the number of people who were unemployed fell by 15,000 workers. The number of people who said they were working rose by just 1,000.

Data for the monthly employment and jobs numbers come from two reports. A survey of households determines the unemployment rate while a survey of employers determines how many jobs there are.

In November, employers reported a net gain of 9,700 jobs in the state.

The biggest gain was in the trade, transportation and utilities sector that includes retail. It added 8,200 jobs. While that number is seasonally-adjusted, it may reflect some of the hiring for the holiday shopping period. The sector had 2,500 more jobs in November than it did in November 2012.

Education and health services saw the next biggest gain, with 2,000 jobs added over the month, making for a gain of 11,800 jobs over the year.

Professional and business services had the biggest gain both in raw numbers and by percentage in the year-over-year comparison. The sector added 1,600 jobs for the month, for a total of 15,400 jobs gained over the last year. That was a 2.1 percent increase in jobs in that sector for the year.

Construction companies cut 1,800 jobs in November, though the sector was still up by 1,600 from November 2012.

Manufacturing lost 900 jobs during the month, which left the sector 1,200 jobs short of last year.

Governments at all levels added 1,300 jobs in November, but that was still 8,000 jobs short of November 2012.

Ann Belser: or 412-263-1699.

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