Unemployment in Pennsylvania rises

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The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania rose above the national rate in December, according to figures released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Pennsylvania's unemployment rate was 7.9 percent, slightly above the state's November unemployment rate of 7.8 percent and the national unemployment rate of 7.8 percent for December.

The unemployment rate in the state is higher than it was in December 2011, when the seasonally adjusted rate was 7.7 percent and unemployment was waning from its post-recessionary high of 8.7 percent. The state unemployment rate ultimately fell to 7.4 percent in March and April 2011, but has risen since then and has been hovering around 8 percent.

In April 2007, well before the Great Recession started in December of that year, unemployment in Pennsylvania was 4.2 percent.

The unemployment rate did not hit 5 percent until April 2008.

Comparing December 2007, when the Great Recession began, to December 2012, three and a half years after the official end of the recession, shows that while the state's civilian labor force grew by 179,000, the number of people who were working was still down by 46,000.

In December, the state also lost nonfarm jobs. A blunt count of jobs, without the smoothing of spikes that is done with seasonal adjustment, found that employers cut 24,800 jobs from November to December. Seasonal adjustment of those numbers, however, provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Friday, brought it down to 4,800 jobs lost.

Goods-producing industries added jobs overall with 700 new jobs in mining and logging and 4,400 construction jobs. Mining and logging jobs were up by 3,300 from December 2011, but construction was down from the previous year by 7,700 jobs. Manufacturing, which was up by 5,500 over December 2011, lost 1,100 jobs from November to December 2012.

In the service-providing sector, the state lost 8,800 jobs during the month, but was up by 37,600 jobs from the same time in 2011.

Trade transportation and utilities lost 5,500 jobs from November to December; leisure and hospitality cut 5,100 jobs from month to month; and financial activities lost 1,800 jobs during that time. Those three sectors all increased jobs in a year-over-year comparison by 9,100, 15,000 and 3,800, respectively.

Education and health services, however, which added 3,700 jobs in December from November, was down by 1,800 jobs compared to December 2011.

Government added 1,500 jobs during the month, but was down by 200 jobs in a year-over-year comparison.

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


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