Pittsburgh Jobless Rate Dips to Lowest Point in More Than 6 Years

Dec 30, 2014

The unemployment rate in the seven-county Pittsburgh labor market dipped to 4.8 percent in November.

“The last time the rate was this low was in April 2008 when the rate was also at 4.8 percent,” said Ashley Yanchunas, business and industry analyst with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

The number of area residents with jobs rose by 4,700 and the number of those out of work fell by 2,700 last month.

“Some people like to psychologically think of it as what ever the unemployment level decreases by, they assume those people are entering the employment side,” Yanchunas said. “It’s not necessarily the same exact people, but in this case you do see an unemployment drop, an employment increase and a labor force increase which is a great sign for the area.”

The labor force — the number of people employed plus those seeking work — rose by 2,000 in November.

The largest growth came in the retail sector which added 4,400 jobs last month. 

“Any more you see a lot of increase in retail trade rather than December because people want to get an earlier start on their shopping,” Yanchunas said.

According to Yanchunas, the leisure and hospitality industry cut 6,100 jobs “which was expected” as the reductions from the summer season continued. 

She said when she looks at the data “nothing stands out for that doesn’t have a seasonal pattern,” but the financial activities sector did add 500 jobs. 

“That seems to be pretty much in line with what would be expected for the month of November, so there’s nothing extraordinary happening there," Yanchunas said. "Professional and business services there was a decline this month (2,200 positions), but I believe that is a correction for some strong increases that we saw in the last few months. So there’s nothing too worrisome there.”

Over the last 12 months, professional and business services have actually added 900 jobs in the Pittsburgh region.

The jobless rates across the seven counties (Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland) ranged from a low of 4.4 percent in Butler to a high of 5.8 percent in Armstrong.

“Something that people need to keep in mind is that the [seven-county] Pittsburgh MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) calculation is different than the calculation for each of the individual counties,” Yanchunas said. “So when I look at that, the fact that some of them (jobless rates) actually did go up compared to the MSA going down, so there’s nothing too significant I really see in that.”