Pennsylvania's unemployment rate under 8 percent

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Pennsylvania's unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point from February's 8.1 percent to 7.9 percent in March as employers reported a net loss of 5,900 jobs. The state's unemployment rate remained above the national unemployment rate, which was 7.6 percent last month.

The declining unemployment rate was more from Pennsylvanians dropping out of the labor force than from unemployed residents finding jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics report showed that while the number of unemployed people fell in the state by 45,600 people, the number of people working only rose by 14,600, which means that 31,000 people dropped out of the state's labor force.

The commonwealth was one of 11 states that had statistically significant declines in their unemployment rates, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The monthly unemployment numbers are based on two surveys. The first, of households, was the survey in which 31,000 people more said they were neither working nor looking for work and thus dropped out of the labor market. The other survey of employers, known as the establishment survey, also contained bad news.

That survey, which looks at payrolls in the state, showed that 9,600 jobs had been cut in the sector known as trade, transportation and utilities. There were 6,200 fewer jobs in that sector than in March 2012. Other job losses were seen in professional and business services, which cut 2,800 jobs last month.

All of the employment sectors in the categories for the production of goods lost a total of 3,600 jobs. Manufacturers cut 2,100 jobs, construction cut 700 jobs and mining and logging, a small sector by comparison, lost 800 jobs -- but those jobs represent 2.1 percent of the workforce in mining and logging. In a year-over-year comparison, mining and logging was down 1,400 jobs and construction was down 2,400 jobs, but manufacturing was up from March 2012 by 200 jobs.

Industries that gained included leisure and hospitality, which added 6,100 jobs but was down 1,300 over last year. Education and health services added 1,900 jobs and has added 7,200 jobs since March 2012.

So-called "other services" -- which is a hodgepodge category of jobs including various sorts of repair shops, religious activities, grant making, laundry services and funeral homes -- added 1,200 jobs and was up 2,700 jobs from last year.

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


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