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Pittsburgh Unemployment Deceptively Rises To 7.4 Percent

In the last unemployment report to be released prior to the November 6 elections, Pittsburgh’s jobless rate rose one-tenth of a percentage point from 7.3 percent in August to 7.4 percent in September. However that percentage doesn’t tell the entire story according to Doug Heuck, the Director of the regional benchmarking website PittsburghTODAY.

“When you actually look at the change in actual employment and the number of jobs added in that period, Pittsburgh actually had the third highest rise in jobs [among peer cities] in terms of percentage change over that year,” he said.

According to a PittsburghTODAY analysis, the number of employed in the Pittsburgh region continues to grow, even though the number of unemployed has gone up by roughly 3,500 people compared to September 2011. The Pittsburgh region statistically covers the seven county Pittsburgh labor market: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland counties.

But why is unemployment rising even though there are a record number of people employed in the region?

“The answer has to do with labor force,” Heuck said. “The labor force: the people who are working and who are actually looking for work jumped pretty dramatically and it’s been doing the same in Pittsburgh for the last couple of years.”

In other words, Heuck believes the rise in both unemployment percentage, employment, and labor force is due to a renewed faith in the Pittsburgh economy.

“[People] are confident in our—in the jobs picture here,” he said. “So they’re entering the labor force some of that will be people coming from other places having heard good news about Pittsburgh and the jobs available and its job growth which has been strong, and some of that will be people saying you know, the job picture in Pittsburgh is better, I’m going to start looking again.”

Statewide, unemployment increased to 8.2 percent in September; four-tenths of a percent higher than the national average.

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