Economy
6:00 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

PA Unemployment Rate Up For 2nd Straight Month

Despite staying under the national rate of 8.3 percent, Pennsylvania’s jobless rate jumped from 7.6 percent in June to 7.9 percent in July. Over the past four months, the number of jobs in the state has decreased, following a two month increase in February and March. The unemployment rate was down 0.2 percent from July 2011.

The State Department of Labor and Industry reported 10,000 more people were looking for jobs in July while resident employment was down 10,000. The number of unemployed residents rose by 21,000. The labor force was up 110,000 above July 2011’s level.

Scott Meckley, Manager with the Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, said it has been approximately two years since Pennsylvania saw numbers like these.

“The last time that something similar happened was in April of 2009 and it does mark two consecutive months of unemployment rate increases because the June rate increased two-tenths to 7.6 percent,” Meckley said.

The largest drops were found in education, health services, leisure, and hospitality. Goods producers and service providers also experienced a decline from June. Meckley said it is natural to see trends like this with so many people looking for jobs again.

“We’ve seen a large number of people come into the labor force and they initially come into the labor force as unemployed. What that will do is that will drive the unemployment rate up just because you have brand new people coming into the labor force that don’t have jobs right away,” Meckley said.

Although it is difficult to predict unemployment rates in the future, Meckley said it is important to look closely at job creation over the next few months.

“Job growth can have a lot of seasonality to it. What we want to look for is if the jobs count increases,” Meckley said. “Obviously that means people who are currently looking for work find jobs and that can always lead to a drop in the unemployment rate in the future.”

A detailed breakdown of seasonally adjusted jobs data at the sector level is available at www.paworkstats.state.pa.us.