Jobs Report Bleak
Job losses in the Pittsburgh region continued to mount in January, and revised data reveal that the troubling losses experienced across industry sectors last year were worse than first reported, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area lost about 85,000 jobs between January 2020 and January 2021 — an 8.0 percent decrease over the year, according to preliminary data. The local rate of job loss was greater than the 7.1 percent average decline among the 16 Pittsburgh Today benchmark regions.
With January’s preliminary jobs data came more bad news: Yearly revisions to the previously reported 2020 jobs data paint a bleaker picture of the region’s economy during the coronavirus pandemic. For example, the Pittsburgh region lost 20,100 more jobs in December 2020 than reported in the preliminary data.
“The hole got a little bigger,” said Chris Briem, a regional economist at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Social and Urban Research. “The revisions are almost all downward. The bottom line is that 2020 was worse than we thought it was and we thought 2020 was pretty bad.”
The revisions erased minor job gains in the financial services sector — the one industry that appeared to have added jobs last year. “That has gone away completely,” Briem said. “But it is still one of the more resilient sectors.” The sector lost 3.1 percent of its jobs from January 2020 to January 2021.
The local economy offered few signs of recovery in the first month of 2021.
Every sector in the Pittsburgh region lost jobs from January 2020 to January 2021, according to the preliminary data. The leisure and hospitality sector was hit the hardest, losing more than 27 percent of the jobs it had provided in January 2020.
Manufacturing companies in the region shed 8.2 percent of their jobs during the 12-month period.
The Pittsburgh region is not alone. All of Pittsburgh Today’s 16 benchmark regions lost jobs between January 2020 and January 2021. Austin suffered the least amount of pain, losing 2.8 percent of its jobs. Boston endured the worst decline, losing 9.8 percent of the jobs from a year prior.
“The economic numbers will follow how the public health concerns evolve,” Briem said. “Until the public health concerns abate, I’m not quite sure you’ll see a rebound.”