Joblessness worse in the Pittsburgh region than year ago

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The unemployment rate in the Pittsburgh region declined by one-tenth of one percentage point from 7.5 percent in January to 7.4 percent in February, the state's Department of Labor and Industry reported Tuesday.

The decline still leaves the jobless rate more than half of a percentage point above the level seen in February 2012, when unemployment was 6.8 percent.

Those numbers are seasonally-adjusted to take out the typical peaks and valleys related to seasonal hiring. The seven-county Pittsburgh metropolitan statistical area is made up of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

PG graphic: Regional jobless rates
(Click image for larger version)

According to the survey of households used to set the unemployment rate, 9,700 more people in the region were counted as unemployed than in February 2012, even as the number of those working increased by 21,400. That's because the total labor force increased over the year by 31,100 people.

The Department of Labor and Industry also announced that the seasonally-adjusted data on the number of jobs in the region has been set too high over the past year. Once a year, the previous year's numbers are revised in a process known as benchmarking.

This year, the number was generally too high, in some cases by up to one percent -- about 100,000 jobs too many -- so the employment picture was uglier than originally painted.

The department reported the number of jobs in the seven-county region, based on a survey of employers and not seasonally-adjusted, expanded by 1,300 from January to February.

While private sector jobs have been touted as the savior of the economy, in February the region experienced a net loss of 2,000 private sector jobs from January.

The jobs that were gained came because government employment grew by 3,300. Public schools added 2,800 jobs, though school employment was still down by 1,300 from February 2012. Municipal governments cut 100 workers in February but state government added 600.

In the private sector, construction added 1,100 new jobs, but manufacturing lost 200 jobs and was down 500 jobs from February 2012.

The retail trade was down by 2,100 jobs. Health care and social assistance, which added 2,700 jobs in the last year, added 300 jobs in February.

Private colleges and universities added 3,200 jobs, which in part reflects the end of January break. Employment in that sector was up 1,200 over February 2012.

Leisure and hospitality cut 2,300 jobs in February and was down 2,600 jobs from February 2012.

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


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