Pennsylvania’s Job Market Improvement Hit a Snag in July and August

Pennsylvania’s Job Market Improvement Hit a Snag in July and August

After some solid gains over the last year or so, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate jumped from 7.8 percent in July to 8.2 percent in August. A 16,000 drop in the number of employed (as measured by the household survey) and a 6,000 increase in labor force pushed the unemployment rate up quite sharply. At the same time, the separate establishment survey of jobs found a tiny 1,500 rise in employee count from July to August-much smaller than the average 5,700 per month increase since January.

What’s more, the July establishment job count was revised downward by 11,000 resulting in slight 2,000 job decline from June’s reading rather than the 9,000 jump reported in the July Labor and Industry Department’s release on labor force statistics. On a year over year basis, August employment remains 56,600 ahead of the August 2010 level. However, that figure is well below the 85,000 average of year on year gains during the first three months of 2011. The only truly bright spots in the August data were the gains in mining, manufacturing, professional services and financial employment. Surprisingly, the education and health services sector posted a decline as did leisure and hospitality, sectors that have been mainstays of the jobs recovery. Meanwhile, information services suffered an abrupt 3.6 percent drop in employment between July and August.

All told, the substantial downward revision in July numbers and the small increase in August establishment jobs point to a significant slowing in the Commonwealth’s progress to full labor market recovery.