June was a good month for the Pittsburgh regional economy.
Employers added 11,500 jobs and the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate declined from 6.9 percent in May to 6.8 percent.
The raw number for unemployment, however, did not look as good. Without seasonal adjustment, there was much more volatility in the rate.
The end of school year added 25,500 people to the labor force in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area -- which without seasonal adjustment, raised the unemployment rate by from 6.6 percent in May to 7.2 percent in June. But that trend happens every June as graduates and students seeking summer employment enter the job market, the way that holiday hiring does in November and December and then the post-holiday layoffs do in January and February.
That is why the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics adjusts the figures to temper the swings caused by seasonal factors.
This last month, however, the seasonal adjustment was brought into stark relief because while the federal government uses a method called "smooth seasonal adjustment," the state, which provides seasonal adjustment for individual counties, does not factor as many variables into its adjustment. So while each individual county had a higher rate of unemployment than it did in May, the seven-county region, which is adjusted by the federal government, saw the unemployment rate go down.
The Pittsburgh metropolitan statistical area is a seven-county region made up of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
Ismael Fertenbaugh, an analyst for the state's Department of Labor and Industry, said June was one of those rare months when all of the county rates, which are adjusted by the state, went up, while the metropolitan areas and the state's unemployment rates, which are adjusted by the federal government, went down.
Mr. Fertenbaugh noted that 49 of the state's 67 counties saw unemployment rates go up even as the state's overall rate declined from 7.6 percent in May to 7.5 percent in June.
The case is true, too, in the counting of jobs in the region.
With the federal seasonal adjustment, the seven-county region added 4,000 jobs from May to June and 19,800 jobs over the course of the year. But without seasonal adjustment, the region added 11,600 from month to month and 15,500 jobs over the year.
None of the specific industry data is seasonally adjusted, so that the best comparison for industrial employment is year to year instead of month to month. For instance, while local governments, excluding the public schools, gained 1,500 jobs from May to June, there was a loss from June 2012 to June 2013 of 700 jobs in local government.
The schools are even worse. Employment in the public schools dropped by 2,900 workers from May to June, which is typical because of the summer recess, but a year-over-year comparison shows there are 1,300 fewer jobs in the schools than there were last June.
Manufacturing added 900 jobs from May to June and 500 over the year. Iron, steel and metal allow manufacturing did not add any jobs from month to month and lost 200 jobs over the course of the year.
Health care and social assistance added 3,100 jobs from month to month and 3,700 over the year. The bulk of those jobs were in ambulatory, or out-patient services, and in-home care services, which added 1,900 jobs from May to June and 3,700 jobs from June 2012 to June 2013.
Ann Belser: email@example.com or 412-263-1699. First Published July 30, 2013 10:30 AM