The January labor market report for the Johnstown Metropolitan Statistical Area was released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor and Industry with unwelcome news on the economy.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate locally rose to 9.3 percent, an increase of four-tenths of a percentage point over the month. The last time the rate reached this level was in May 2010. This marked an over-the-year gain of nine- tenths for the Johnstown MSA.
Seasonal adjustment is a statistical method for removing the component that is used when analyzing nonseasonal trends. It is routine to report seasonally adjusted data for unemployment rates to reveal the underlying trends in labor markets.
Statewide, the rate rose three-tenths of a percentage point in January to reach 8.2 percent and was up six-tenths over the year.
The national rate increased slightly to 7.9 percent, up one- tenth over the month but down four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous year.
The unadjusted jobless rate for the Johnstown area climbed to 10.8 percent in January. The last time this area saw double-digit unemployment (unadjusted) was February 2010.
January unemployment rates among Pennsylvania’s 67 counties ranged from 5.9 percent in Centre County to 12.8 percent in Cameron County. Unemployment rates and rankings of neighboring counties were: Blair (7.5 percent), Bedford (10.6 percent) and Somerset (10.8 percent).
According to Ismael Fertenbaugh, industry and business analyst for the Department of Labor and Industry, “Industry level data which is not seasonally adjusted showed that job losses in the Johnstown MSA occurred across multiple super sectors in January and followed typical seasonal patterns.
“Trade, transportation, utilities, education and health services had the largest declines, with both industries cutting 400 jobs over the month. Those same super sectors also showed the largest over-the-year gains, up 300 and 500, respectively.
“Seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs in the Johnstown MSA decreased 300 in January to 59,700. Despite this decline, jobs in the MSA were up 400 from the previous year.”
While it is not uncommon to see increased unemployment and fewer jobs during the first quarter, the measure of labor market activity in this report confirms the absence of any sustainable improvement in the local economy.