Pennsylvania unemployment inches down

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Pennsylvania's unemployment rate fell from 7.6 percent in April to 7.5 percent in May, the state Department of Labor and Industry announced Friday.

But the picture of the state's job growth in May appeared more grim.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the largest over-the-month decrease in jobs occurred in Pennsylvania, which lost 9,200 jobs. The state lost 3,000 government jobs last month, a third of the jobs lost in May.

The bureau noted that in May, nonfarm payroll jobs increased in 33 states and the District of Columbia with the largest over-the-month increase occurring in Ohio, which added 32,100 jobs.

The state labor force grew by 16,000.

"The economy is growing -- we are adding jobs and unemployment is slowing," said Mark Price, an economist at the Keystone Research Center in Harrisburg. "Still, unemployment is too high and job growth remains too weak to make a full recovery. We're just chugging along."

The state's unemployment rate fell only four-tenths of a percentage point since May 2012, when the figure rested at 7.9 percent. But it is a significant decrease over January 2013, when the rate peaked at 8.2 percent.

This month also marks the first time Pennsylvania's unemployment rate has fallen below 7.6 percent since March 2009. It has also fallen under the national average, which ticked up to 7.6 percent in May.

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Michelle Hackman: mhackman@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1969.


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