Weak Regional Jobs Picture Continues
Employers in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area shed 25,000 jobs from December 2021 to January 2022 – a 2.2 percent monthly loss, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Seasonal job losses are typical in January, but other data offer little hope that local jobs will snap back to pre-COVID levels. Annual revisions to last year’s job numbers show weaker job growth than was originally reported.
“There was a measurable decline in the revision—about an [additional] loss of 4,500 jobs over the year,” said Chris Briem, a regional economist at the University of Pittsburgh’s University Center for Social and Urban Research. “What was already anemic job growth is now marginally worse than we thought.”
Job growth in southwestern Pennsylvania has stagnated after an initial surge in rehiring during the summer and fall months of 2020.
“There’s been a certain reset in the regional job numbers,” Briem said. “Whatever shifts have happened [during the pandemic] have happened and now it’s a permanent shift.”
Employers in the region added 30,6000 jobs in the region from January 2021 to January 2022—for a 2.8 percent gain. But the 1,104,000 total jobs reported in January falls well short of the 1,177,400 jobs reported in February 2020 on the eve of the pandemic.
“How the region will compete with other regions for jobs is the big question,” Briem asked. “Most other regions are facing the same issues with hiring that we are. It’s almost more challenging than it has been in the past as workers are seeing more opportunities from other places. I do think a lot of local employers are having to face workers who are finding opportunities elsewhere and may not have to move. That’s part of the nature of expanded remote work.”