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Pittsburgh Job Growth Slowed Last Year, Group Says

Hospitals, financial services and the Marcellus Shale industry in southwestern Pennsylvania are expanding employment, but the rest of the area’s economy has slowed hiring, according to Pittsburgh TODAY.

Douglas Heuck, Program Director for Pittsburgh TODAY, a nonprofit that provides statistical information on Pittsburgh life, said Pittsburgh’s job growth from February 2012 to February 2013 was 0.18 percent.

He said Pittsburgh was once third in job growth in their rankings of 15 cities, but last year’s numbers dropped it to last.

The Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in January 2013 (when the most recent data was available), the unemployment rate in Pittsburgh was 7.5 percent compared to the nation’s 7.9 percent.

Of those seven counties, Fayette County has the highest unemployment rate at 10 percent, and Butler County has the lowest at 6.7 percent. Allegheny County was at 6.8 percent.

He said Pittsburgh might be behind other cities in job growth because they were hit harder during the recession and are now starting to make economic comebacks.

Related story: Report: Pittsburgh Region Sustained Five Consecutive Years of Economic Growth

“We weren’t knocked down nearly as badly and we recovered much more quickly,” Heuck said. “A lot of these regions have really been enduring economic hard times through much of the last five years, and so they do have more room to recuperate and recover back to more healthy standards.”

Heuck said the Pittsburgh-area labor force is also larger — with a 2.86 percent increase in those looking for work between January 2012 and January 2013.

He said more people have been moving to Pittsburgh because of its lower unemployment rate during the past five years, but those people could easily leave if they can’t find jobs.

“The more highly qualified people, they can move," Heuck said. "And other people who aren’t as highly qualified, if they get discouraged, they might drop out of the labor force. So it’s good to have a strong labor force. It’s good for our companies and good for the region, but we do need to have the jobs available for them.”

Heuck said there are about 26,000 current job openings in Pittsburgh, but there’s a skills mismatch between what’s open in the job market and people's training. 

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