Pennsylvania unemployment fell in April

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Seasonally adjusted unemployment in Pennsylvania fell in April from 6 percent in March to 5.7 percent, and the number of jobs was up by 10,900.

While the unemployment rate had been ticking down, that trend had been driven primarily by unemployed workers who quit looking for jobs. April’s data released Friday by the state Department of Labor and Industry told a different story: People were moving out of unemployment and into jobs.

The report noted that 23,000 more people were working in April than in March, while the number of people who were unemployed fell by 22,000 during that same period. Those data are collected in a survey of households across the state.

Sara Goulet, spokeswoman for the state Department of Labor and Industry, said there was even more good news in the survey, including an increase in the number of people working full-time even as the number of people working part-time has dwindled.

As for those who stopped looking for work, Ms. Goulet said, “Our economists are saying that people are reporting that they are not looking for reasons other than being discouraged. They just don’t want a job.”

While the unemployment rate is down, 368,000 people are still looking for jobs in the state.

The change in the unemployment rate was large enough to be considered statistically significant. Pennsylvania was one of 20 states that experienced a statistically significant decline in the unemployment rate in April.

“Things are a lot better in the last four months than they were in the previous 12,” Mark Price, a labor economist for the Keystone Research Center, said.

The state has been averaging an increase of 2,700 jobs a month this year. In 2013, the monthly average was 225. Those numbers come from a survey of employers and are also seasonally adjusted.

Industries with the biggest job gains in April were professional and business services, which added 8,500 jobs, and construction with 6,500 jobs.

Manufacturing, however, lost 1,500 jobs in April. The sector is still down by 5,000 jobs over the last year.

Year over year, the sector with the biggest job losses was government, which has cut 10,300 jobs since April 2013 including 700 jobs in the last report.


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

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