The March labor market report showed mixed changes, according to information released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor and Industry.
On the jobs front, it was not the news that many were hoping for as the seasonally adjusted job level edged downward in each of the first three months of this year.
While these month-to-month changes were comparatively small, the current average of 59,500 is 2,700 below the first quarter average in 2008, a month after the official beginning of the recession in December 2007.
This trend once again reinforces the fact that there is still a lot of ground to be made up in returning to prerecession levels.
The current seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs figure is placed at 59,300, down 600 from one year ago.
According to Ismael Fertenbaugh, industry and business analyst for the state Department of Labor and Industry, “Small gains were seen in manufacturing, education and health services, as well as other services, with each industry up 100 jobs over the month.”
The metropolitan statistical area showed small growth in private industry (plus 100), which was overshadowed by cuts in government across federal (minus 300), state (minus 100) and local (minus 100) agencies.
Meanwhile, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 9.2 percent, a drop of 0.2 percent over the month. The statewide rate also declined 0.2 percent, falling to 7.9 percent, while the national rate decreased 0.1 percent to 7.6 percent.
There continues to be several contributing factors to the comparatively high jobless rate locally. These include job availability and overall economic conditions from the continued fallout associated with the recession.
The jobless rate locally averaged 9.3 percent in the first quarter. A year ago, the comparable average for the first three months was 8.4 percent.
Unemployment rates in neighboring counties were Blair, 7.2 percent; Bedford, 9.3 percent; and Somerset, 9.3 percent.
For 40 years, Bill Findley was employed by the state Department of Labor and Industry Center for Workforce Information and Analysis as a workforce information specialist, monitoring and reporting on labor market developments in this area and across the region. He is a graduate of Pitt with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.