Pa.'s September jobless rate eclipses national average
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For the first time since October 2006, the Pennsylvania unemployment rate has risen above the national level, with September's rate hitting 8.2 percent, or four-tenths of a percentage point above the national rate of 7.8 percent.
Throughout the Great Recession, the state's unemployment rate sat comfortably below the national rate. When the country's overall rate hit its high point of 10 percent in October 2009, Pennsylvania was experiencing unemployment of 8.4 percent.
In September, those two lines of the graph crossed.
The state's unemployment rate has been rising since May, when it was 7.4 percent. The rest of the country's collective jobless rate started to decline beginning in July, when the rate was at 8.3 percent, and falling to 7.8 percent in September.
Pennsylvania's September rate was a one-tenth of a percentage point increase over August's 8.1 percent. The increase was caused mostly because of a large jump in the state's labor force, which added 29,000 people.
While 23,000 more people reported they are working than a month earlier, 5,000 more people said they are looking for work than the previous month.
A year-over-year comparison shows the labor force in the state grew by 130,000 in September and employment grew by 109,000, but the unemployment rate is up as well from September 2011's 8 percent level. In the past 12 months, the Pennsylvania unemployment rate's low point was in April and May, when it was 7.4 percent.
In an intense election cycle, any shifting in the jobless rate quickly draws attention.
The Pennsylvania Democratic House Caucus released a statement within an hour of the unemployment figures release Friday morning, calling them "a stunning indictment of [Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's] absent leadership and the Republican Party's failure on jobs in Pennsylvania."
Kelli Roberts, a spokeswoman for Mr. Corbett, said the statement was just an example of the Democratic Caucus playing politics.
"If you look at the numbers, we continue to create jobs," she said, adding that with the 17,800 jobs created this month it makes 86,000 jobs added to Pennsylvania payrolls since Mr. Corbett took office.
While the unemployment rate is set by a survey of households, a separate survey of employers released Friday by the state Department of Labor and Industry showed that during September employers in Pennsylvania had increased the size of their payrolls by a net 17,800 jobs from August. Total non-farm jobs rose by 41,100 from September 2011.
In the past month, the two biggest employment sectors -- trade, transportation and utilities; and education and health services -- added jobs.
Trade, transportation and utilities added 5,900 and the sector is up 15,000 jobs over last year. Education and health services added 8,800 jobs during the month, but that sector is down 6,800 for the year.
Manufacturing is still up 4,500 jobs in a year-over-year comparison but the sector cut 3,400 jobs in September. Construction, which cut 100 jobs during the month, is down 9,100 from a year ago.
Professional and business services, which hemorrhaged jobs during the Great Recession's financial crisis, added 7,900 jobs during the month and is up 19,500 in the last year. The financial activities sector also added 1,000 jobs in September and is up 4,200 jobs from last year.
Governments in Pennsylvania added 600 jobs in September from August, but have cut 2,800 jobs over the year.
First Published October 20, 2012 12:00 am