For The Tribune-Democrat
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the Johnstown metropolitan statistical area decreased one-tenth of a percentage point to 8.8 percent in June, according to information released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor and Industry.
Since the recent peak of 9.4 percent in February, the rate has declined for four consecutive months and fallen by six-tenths of a percentage point. Statewide and national rates held steady in June, at 7.5 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively.
The unadjusted jobless rate in June was placed at 9.5 percent, up from a rate of 8.4 percent a month ago, while unchanged from a year ago.
According to Ismael Fertenbaugh, industry and business analyst for the Department of Labor and Industry, “Seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs in the local labor market fell 200 in June to 59,400. Job levels in the metropolitan statistical area have declined in six of the past 12 months and four times since the start of 2013.”
Despite these declines, jobs were unchanged from one year ago.
Industry level data, which is not seasonally adjusted, followed the usual seasonal patterns in June. Small fluctuations were seen across numerous industries; however, the end of the school year accounted for the largest over-the-month movement, with education and health services falling by 500 jobs. Over the year, gains across multiple private service-providing industries have countered a decline in public sector jobs.
June marked four years since the end of the Great Recession, and in that time, the nonfarm jobs total declined by 500 jobs.
Private service-providing industries expanded by 1,100 jobs, with leisure and hospitality and education and health services showing the largest increases, adding 500 and 400 jobs, respectively. These gains were overshadowed by a drop of 1,500 government jobs with losses across federal (down 400), state (down 400) and local (down 700) agencies.
So far the area has shown some modest signs of improvement when compared to previous periods.
However, the question moving forward is whether we can sustain a positive movement by continuing to add jobs and reducing unemployment to a more acceptable level. The recent rates that have remained in the 8 to 9 percent range show that there is a lot of work to be done.
The jobless rates based on unadjusted numbers increased at midyear in Cambria, 9.5 percent; Blair, 7.2 percent; Bedford, 8.8 percent; and Huntingdon, 9.1 percent. Somerset County’s rate declined to 8.6 percent.
The unadjusted total number of jobs at midyear showed declines in all of the neighboring counties except Blair, where the job level remained at the previous month level. Cambria County was the biggest loser, followed by Bedford and Huntingdon counties.
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.