July Pa. jobless rate rises to 7.8 percent

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Unemployment rose in Pennsylvania in July, but still remains below that of the nation.

The State Department of Labor and Industry reported Thursday that the state unemployment rate grew to 7.8 percent in July from 7.6 percent in June. The national rate was 9.1 percent in July, down from the June rate of 9.2 percent.

It was part of a mixed report from the state that showed that the number of employed Pennsylvanian's fell by 39,000 even as the number of jobs in the state rose by 8,700.

The state's unemployment rate had been falling over the last year, from the recession high of 8.8 percent in April 2010, to the lowest level of the recovery thus far -- 7.4 percent in May. But July marks the second month of a rising unemployment rate.

The unemployment rate does not reflect the number of people who stepped out of the labor force during the month. The Department of Labor and Industry's report on Pennsylvania's employment also showed that 24,000 people left the labor force in July. Someone is considered in the labor force if he is working or looking for work. People who have stopped looking for work because they are discouraged are not considered to be in the labor force.

If all of the people who left were still in the labor force and also unemployed, the unemployment rate would be close to 8.2 percent.

The unemployment rate is determined by a telephone survey of households in the state. A separate survey of employers, known as the establishment survey, estimates the number of jobs in the state.

The survey of employers showed that the number of jobs grew by 8,700, an increase of 0.2 percent over June.

The largest job gains were in education and health services, which added 6,400 jobs. A news release from the state accompanying the data said most of those jobs were in educational services.

Government employment dropped by 3,800, which the news release said was because of cuts in local government employment.

Other sectors that added jobs were leisure and hospitality, 2,900; construction, 1,500; and professional and business services; 1,400.

Trade, transportation and utilities, which would not include Verizon strikers who went off the job in August, lost 900 jobs, and information services lost 700 jobs.

Ann Belser: 412-263-1699.


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