Pennsylvania lost 8,400 jobs in March

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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: abelser@post-ga­ or 412-263-1699.

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