Pa. falls further behind in jobless rate

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Pennsylvania's unemployment rate declined one-tenth of a percentage point in February to 8.1 percent from January's 8.2 percent, the state's Department of Labor and Industry reported Friday afternoon.

The slight decrease didn't keep the state from falling even further behind the rest of the nation. The national rate declined two-tenths of a percentage point in February to 7.7 percent, four-tenths of a percentage point better than Pennsylvania's unemployment rate.

The last time Pennsylvania's unemployment rate was that much higher than the rest of the nation's was in December 2000, when the state unemployment rate was 4.3 percent and the national rate was 3.9 percent. That was when Democrat Bill Clinton was the president and Republican Tom Ridge was governor.

In February 2012, when the national unemployment rate was 8.3 percent, Pennsylvania was doing much better with a rate of 7.6 percent.

Both the state and the nation have seen employment growing in the last year. But nationally, employment grew more quickly than in the state. Across the country, the number of people who said they were working grew by 1 percent year over year. That same time frame in Pennsylvania showed a growth rate of 0.8 percent, or 93,000 workers.

Over the last month, the state's labor force declined by 13,000 people. The state reported that there are 6,000 fewer people who said they were working and 5,000 people who were unemployed and gave up looking for a job.

A separate survey of employers showed the state gained a net of 600 jobs for the month, putting it 16,500 jobs ahead of February 2012. The survey of employers often diverges from the household survey.

Service industries as a whole cut back, eliminating 5,300 jobs during February.

Those losses were more than made up by goods-producing industries, which expanded their workforce by 5,900 workers during February. Manufacturers reported adding 4,400 jobs, and construction companies added 1,500 jobs. No jobs were added in February in the mining and logging sector, which includes Marcellus Shale jobs.

In the service industries, education and health services cut 5,200 jobs, leisure and hospitality cut 4,000 jobs, and other services -- including car repair, hair salons, funeral homes, pet care, grant writing and labor unions -- lost 1,000 jobs.

The supersector that includes trade, transportation and utilities added 1,700 jobs; and professional and business services added 3,600 jobs.

Governments in the state added 600 jobs during February but were down by 6,300 jobs from last year.

businessnews

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


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