Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate fell in March to 6 percent, but that welcome news was mitigated somewhat by the state losing more jobs over the month than any other state.
“The particularly good news is the rate dropped for all the right reasons: unemployment is down, employment is up and the labor force is up,” said Sara Goulet, spokeswoman for the state Department of Labor & Industry, which issued the report Friday. “That’s the trifecta of good news.”
Pennsylvania’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined to 6 percent from February’s rate of 6.2 percent, putting the state well below the national rate of 6.7 percent.
The numbers behind the rate were strong: 19,000 more people are working; the number of people who are unemployed fell by 8,000; and the labor force, which is the combination of people who are working and unemployed and thus in the labor market, grew by 12,000.
Though the labor force grew in March, it was still down by 46,000 people as compared to March 2013.
The unemployment rate was the lowest since October 2008 during the period of massive layoffs that marked the Great Recession.
While the unemployment rate is based on a survey of households, the news that came out of a survey of employers was not as rosy: Pennsylvania was one of 16 states that lost jobs in March from February.
Thirty-four states added to their job totals during March. Florida added 22,900 jobs, and North Carolina added 19,400.
Those totals were part of a report from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics that noted Pennsylvania suffered the greatest job losses at 8,400. Virginia was second, losing 5,100 jobs.
All of the numbers in the state survey are seasonally adjusted to remove highs and lows from regular hiring and layoffs related to seasonal events such as the holiday shopping season and summer vacations. The seasonal adjustment allows for an easy comparison of months.
The 8,400 Pennsylvania jobs cut in March nearly matched the 8,700 jobs added in February for a net gain of 300 jobs in the two months.
Sectors that gained jobs were trade, transportation and utilities, which includes retail trade, with 1,700 jobs; manufacturing, 1,300 jobs; other services, which is a catch-all of service jobs such as funeral homes and dog grooming, 1,200 jobs; and information, 100 jobs.
Manufacturing, which gained jobs last month, was still down by 4,100 jobs compared to this time last year.
Government employment levels were unchanged from February to March but down by 9,600 jobs for the year.
Professional and business services — which includes architects, attorneys and engineers — shed the most jobs in March with 5,000 jobs lost, but was still up by 5,700 jobs from last year.
Leisure and hospitality was second in March job losses at 2,600 but was up by 14,600 from last year.
Ann Belser: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1699.