Pittsburgh metro jobless rate drops to 8%
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Cold weather threw 1,400 construction workers out of work in November, but still the unemployment rate in the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area fell by two-tenths of a percentage point to 8 percent for the month.
The seven-county Pittsburgh region, which includes Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties, remained below the state's 8.6 percent unemployment rate and the national rate of 9.8 percent.
The latest information, released this morning by the state Department of Labor and Industry, shows that unlike the quick and steady climb the unemployment rate took during the recession, it is sputtering with ups and downs during the recovery. During this economic downturn, the local unemployment rate peaked at 8.8 percent in February.
While construction jobs took a hit last month, overall the raw number of nonfarm jobs, according to a survey of area employers, rose by 1,300 in November from October. That increase could entirely be accounted for with education-related hiring by local governments, which grew over the month by 1,700. Private industry lost 300 jobs in the month, but the sector still has 8,300 jobs over last year.
Mark Price, an economist for the Keystone Research Center, said there was something not quite right about some of the numbers and expected them to be revised because there is no reason education hiring would go up by quite that much in November.
Job growth over the whole year showed that in November 2010 there were 7,800 more jobs in the Pittsburgh region than there were in November 2009.
There was seemingly contradictory information from the survey of households, known as the Current Population Survey. In that survey, there were 8,300 fewer people who had jobs in November 2010 than there were in November 2009, according to the seasonally adjusted figures.
The unemployment rate also was helped by a shrinking pool of people who are considered to be unemployed. If someone answering the survey does not have a job, he or she is considered unemployed if that person looked for work in the last month, but considered to be out of the labor market if he or she did not actively look for a job. In November 2009, there were 9,700 more people in the labor market than there were last month. From October to November there were 5,300 people who dropped out of the labor market.
Mr. Price said that fitted with state and national statistics that are in part accounted for by people who have become discouraged while looking for a job and dropped out of the labor market.
The survey of employers showed that manufacturing gained 400 jobs in November from October, but the sector was still 100 jobs below where it was in November 2009. The employment sector that lumps together mining and logging and includes jobs drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale range hit 6,200 jobs in November, which is the highest for that sector since records began to be kept on it in 1983, according to the state Department of Labor and Industry.
The service industry gained a total of 2,200 jobs, a net positive even when the leisure and hospitality sector lost 3,600 jobs over the month, 600 of them in bars and restaurants.
First Published December 29, 2010 12:00 am