The steady 5.6 percent unemployment rate in Pennsylvania from May to June masked an exodus of workers from the labor force during the month.
Instead of the ranks of the unemployed shrinking because the number of people working was growing, the number of people who had jobs in the state shrank by 22,000 in June even as the unemployment count fell by 6,000.
That was because 28,000 people dropped out of the labor force — giving up on finding work, retiring or perhaps going to school. The figures are seasonally adjusted to allow the state to compare one month to another.
Over the last year, the number of people counted as unemployed has fallen by 129,000, or more than a quarter. What those people are doing now, statistically, is nearly evenly split — with 68,000 working last year, but another 62,000 dropping out of the labor force.
While the unemployment rate is down to the level last seen in September 2008, there weren’t as many people employed in June as there were six years ago when the country was sliding into the Great Recession. The labor force overall is smaller, too.
Employers added 1,800 jobs to Pennsylvania payrolls in June, according to Friday’s report. Over the last year, payrolls in the state have grown by 56,700.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics listed the state as one of 24 that experienced both a significant decline in the unemployment rate — 1.9 percentage points here — and an increase in the number of jobs year over year.
Over the year, the biggest net gains statewide in any sectors were in education and health services, which added 17,100 workers; construction, which added 13,000 workers; and leisure and hospitality, which gained 11,200 workers.
Mining and logging, which includes gas drilling, showed the largest percentage gain for its workforce, at 5.6 percent. But of the sectors that gained jobs, it was the smallest with 2,000 jobs added.
Sectors that showed a year-over-year decline were manufacturing, which lost 6,400 jobs; government with 5,800 fewer jobs; and information, which cut 1,800 jobs.
Ann Belser: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1699.