For The Tribune-Democrat
The February labor market report shows more jobs were lost, according to information released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor and Industry.
The Johnstown labor market area had an additional loss of 400 jobs in February. So far this year, the seasonally adjusted job level has declined by 600.
The unemployment numbers (seasonally adjusted) have not fared much better, rising to 9.4 percent in this report period. This translates into 6,500 workers who don’t have jobs, while excluding those who have become discouraged and quit looking.
Statewide, the rate dropped to 8.1 percent, down 0.1 percent, while the national rate fell 0.2 percent to 7.7 percent.
The pace of economic growth locally is well below the numbers needed to reduce the unemployment rate.
So, while some of the loss may be attributed to seasonal factors normally associated with the first quarter, other factors point to the uncertainties associated with the slow recovery. Little optimism is shared by employers and job seekers as monthly job creation remains soft and overall economic growth is still subpar.
In addition, the future of the economy is uncertain.
Unemployment rates of neighboring counties did not show much improvement over the month. Blair County posted a rate of 7.5 percent; Bedford, 9.5 percent; and Indiana, 7.9 percent.
In Somerset County, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined from 10.8 percent at the beginning of this year to 9.7 percent in February.
A substantial decline in the labor force was responsible for this development.
The current job level of 25,600 was 100 below the previous month and 500 less than the total a year ago. The only change in the current month was a reduction of 100 in professional and business services.
Ismael Fertenbaugh, Industry & Business analyst for the Department of Labor and Industry, said, “Industry level data, which is not seasonally adjusted, showed few significant movements across the MSA (metropolitan statistical area).”
Trade, transportation and utilities dropped by 200 jobs in February, in line with the usual seasonal movements.
Schools and universities returned to classes following the winter session, pushing education and health services up 300 jobs over the month.
This increase was smaller than the previous month’s decline and below the average gain of the past five years.
For the year, the total number of nonfarm jobs in the MSA was unchanged as expansion in private jobs was offset by contraction in government jobs.
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.
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