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Pittsburgh’s labor market continues to fall flat, new figures show

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
There's been little growth in the Pittsburgh area labor force for nearly a year.

Another round of jobs numbers tells a story of continued stagnation in the Pittsburgh area, with employment levels hardly changing for almost a year and a half.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry released new employment counts for regions throughout the state Thursday. In the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, the data shows close to 1.1 million residents were employed in January — roughly the same number as in the fall of 2020.

Local unemployment still fell in January, though, because there was little uptick in the size of the labor force. The number of people who are employed or looking for work rose by just 1,200 between December and January to 1,158,600, extending a nearly yearlong trend of little growth in labor force participation.

During the same period, the local unemployment rate fell by two-tenths of a percentage point to 5.1%, but it still exceeded the national rate, which stood at 4% in January and 3.8% in February. Even so, the rest of the country has been quicker to build back its labor force.

Data released earlier this week painted a similarly weak picture of the local labor market, and it showed that previous estimates of non-farm jobs in and around Pittsburgh during 2021 were slightly inflated.

The count of non-farm positions reflects the number of jobs located within the Pittsburgh metro area, which includes Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland Counties. Thursday’s figures represent whether or not people who reside in the same area are employed. Those individuals could have jobs outside of the region.

Corrected: March 18, 2022 at 7:41 AM EDT
This story was updated to show that employment was roughly the same in January 2022 as it was in fall 2020, not fall 2021.