For The Tribune-Democrat
The economic performance of the Johns-town Metropolitan Statistical Area through the first four months of this year did little to dispel the concern about the direction that the region was headed.
But this week brought some welcome news, as that picture changed in May, with a reported increase in jobs accompanied by lower unemployment.
“This is a good indication that the economy is starting to turn around,” said Linda Thomson, president of Johnstown Area Regional Industries.
The improving job picture also may reflect new economic confidence and growth opportunities.
The total number of non-seasonally adjusted jobs rose to 60,200 in May. That represented an increase of 400, but still fell 400 short of the level from a year ago.
Changes in industry level data were mixed. The goods-producing industries – home to manufacturing, mining and construction – advanced by 100, while the service providing industries reportedly added a combined total of 300 jobs during the month. State government, along with education and health services, dropped below month-ago levels, while leisure and hospitality, information and trade advanced over the previous period.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 8.9 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point over the month. It marked the third consecutive month of decline for the MSA’s rate and marks the first time that the rate has been below 9 percent since August 2012, when it was 8.9 percent. The statewide rate fell one-tenth to 7.5 percent, while the national rate rose one-tenth to 7.6 percent.
A comparison of the labor market areas across the Southern Alleghenies region that includes Cambria, Somerset, Bedford, Blair, Fulton and Huntington counties shows all counties except Fulton added jobs during the month. The largest gain was in Somerset County (plus 500) followed by Cambria (plus 400).
Unemployment rates (unadjusted) show all labor markets across the region except Blair exceeded 8 percent again in May.
Cambria and Somerset counties were the only labor markets where the jobless rate exceeded year-ago levels.
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