Unemployment in Pittsburgh region in April fell to 5.6 percent

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The last time the Pittsburgh region’s unemployment rate was this low was during the national financial market meltdown.

April’s unemployment rate for the Pittsburgh metropolitan statistical area was 5.6 percent, down from March’s 5.8 percent and about back to the levels seen in October 2008, when the nationally economy was hemorrhaging half a million jobs a month and local job losses were stepping up from the hundreds to the thousands.

It has taken nearly five years for the recovery to take hold, but in April the local economy gained a seasonally adjusted total of 8,900 jobs.

That marks the largest single month of job gains since 1990 for the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, said Mark Price, a labor economist for the Harrisburg-based Keystone Research center. Even with a loss of 3,600 jobs in March, the region has seen an average gain of 3,550 jobs a month for each of the last four months.

PG graphic: Regional jobless rate 5.6%
(Click image for larger version)

“Although I would caution against putting too much stock in the April job numbers for Pittsburgh, I do think it is safe to say that the job market nationally has improved, suggesting job growth will be stronger over the next six months than it was last year in Pittsburgh,” Mr. Price said.

If seasonal adjustments are not made to the numbers, the data show the region picking up a total of 22,300 jobs. The wide difference between actual gains and the seasonal adjustment reflect the fact that April is normally a month in which a lot of jobs are added for construction projects and at seasonal attractions and vacation sites.

This April, construction companies added 7,800 jobs and businesses in the leisure and hospitality sector added 8,100 jobs in the Pittsburgh area.

The metropolitan statistical area is made up of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

Local governments cut 1,000 jobs during the month, including 500 jobs in the public schools. Last month, there were about 6,000 fewer jobs in the public schools around the Pittsburgh region than before the recession started to hit.

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

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