Julia Fraser is a Pittsburgh Today staff writer and research specialist.

Regional Unemployment At “Extremely Low” Rate 

The unemployment rate in southwestern Pennsylvania fell to one of the lowest rates in the past 50 years, according to the latest Pennsylvania Department of Labor data.   In September, 4.2 percent of workers in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area were looking for work. That rate tied for the lowest unemployment rate in the region …

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Region Continues Adding Jobs, But Can’t Erase Pandemic Losses

Jobs ticked up in the Pittsburgh region in September, but incremental gains haven’t been enough to bring the number of jobs back up to pre-pandemic levels. Employers in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area added 11,700 jobs from August to September, a 1 percent monthly gain, according to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of …

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Unemployment Remains Low; Hiring Remains Challenging

Regional unemployment in August remain unchanged at 4.4 percent, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor.   “There’s only been a few months in the last 50 years in which the regional unemployment rate has been lower,” said Chris Briem, a regional economist at the University of Pittsburgh University Center for Social and Urban Research.  “The …

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The Workforce Training Swamp

When southwestern Pennsylvania’s steel mills began falling like dominoes in the 1980s, some 3,400 workers turned to publicly funded workforce training programs for help shifting careers. One was a robotics training course offered by the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) and its partner, Westinghouse Electric Corp. Federal dollars flowed to CCAC to pay for …

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PLACE YOUR BETS

In the mid-1960s, public- and private-sector leaders in southwestern Pennsylvania threw their support behind an effort to diversify the region’s steel industry-reliant economy by developing the emerging rapid-transportation market in their backyard. Their hopes were pinned to Skybus, an innovative, automated transportation system that allowed for congestion-free travel on tracks high above streets and highways. …

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College Students Wanted

When the United States slid into the Great Recession, throwing millions out of work, America went back to school. Older adults enrolling in community colleges or other two-year programs led a surge in enrollment that saw colleges add 2.5 million students from 2007-2010, a 14 percent enrollment spike. School administrators were elated. “We all thought, …

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Unemployment Drops; More Workers Needed

Unemployment ticked down in southwestern Pennsylvania to begin 2022, but the region’s labor force woes persisted, according to the latest Pennsylvania Department of Labor data.   In January, 5.1 percent of workers in seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area were unemployed –a drop from 5.3 percent in December 2021. But the unemployment rate in the region remained …

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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 …

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Back to the Future

Most students in 19th century America walked to their local one-room schoolhouse to learn reading, writing and arithmetic in a classroom with a handful of other kids ranging in age and ability. With the youngest children seated at the front of the class, they memorized and recited their lessons. Once a mainstay of public education …

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Local Unemployment Drops, But So Does the Labor Force

Unemployment plunged in southwestern Pennsylvania to close out 2021, but the shrinking number of people choosing to leave the workforce remains a big problem, according to the latest Pennsylvania Department of Labor data.   In December, 5.3 percent of workers in seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area were unemployed – down from 5.7 percent in November 2021. …

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Region Adds Jobs, But Growth Is Slow

Jobs edged up slightly in the Pittsburgh region in November, but not enough to signal a return to pre-COVID employment levels in the new year. Employers in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area added 2,000 jobs from October to November — a 0.2 percent monthly gain, according to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of …

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Lower Unemployment Reported In Region

The unemployment rate in southwestern Pennsylvania dipped below six percent in October, but a shrinking labor force remains a challenge for employers looking to hire, according to the latest Pennsylvania Department of Labor data. In October, 5.9 percent of workers in seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area were looking for work—down from 6.1 percent in September …

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Region Gains Jobs; Braces For Infrastructure Surge

Jobs ticked up in the Pittsburgh region in October, but failed to put much of a dent in the number of jobs lost during the pandemic. Employers in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area added 9,000 more jobs in October than they did one month earlier, according to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of …

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Unemployment, Labor Force Numbers Disappoint

Students returned to college campuses in September, but they failed to trigger a much-needed surge in the southwestern Pennsylvania labor force and employment, according to the latest Pennsylvania Department of Labor data.   At the same time, the region’s unemployment rate moved little, dipping from 6.2 percent in August to 6.1 percent in September – considerably …

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Reforming Education on the Fly

It was against the backdrop of war and pandemic that public education in America underwent radical innovation during the early decades of the 20th century. While the nation endured World War I and the Spanish flu, public education was quietly reshaped by a surge in public school enrollment and a wave of reform. It was …

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Local Unemployment On A Holding Pattern

Southwestern Pennsylvania’s economy held steady in August with the unemployment rate and labor force reaching a plateau, according to the latest Pennsylvania Department of Labor data.   Unemployment in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area remained at 6.2 percent in August 2021—the same percentage of workers unemployed in the region in July. Although the rate failed …

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Job Growth Declines Again

The number of jobs in southwestern Pennsylvania fell slightly in August, further slowing the regional recovery to pre-pandemic levels. Employers in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area had 3,100 fewer jobs on their payrolls in August than one month earlier, according to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the second …

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Unemployment Improves but Region Needs More Workers

Employers in the Pittsburgh region added workers to their payrolls in July, but the region’s labor market remained flat, according to the latest Pennsylvania Department of Labor data. Unemployment in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area dipped from 6.3 percent in June 2021 to 6.2 percent in July, but it is still higher than the …

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Pittsburgh Metro Loses Jobs in July

The seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area had 7,700 fewer jobs in July than what employers had on their payrolls a month earlier, according to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “In normal years, a little bit of decline in the middle of the summer is pretty normal,” said Chris Briem, a regional …

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Few Workers Added to Weak Workforce

The labor market in the Pittsburgh region remained largely stagnant, and unemployment rose slightly in June, according to the latest Pennsylvania Department of Labor data. Unemployment in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area rose from 5.7 percent in May 2021 to 6.3 percent in June. Despite the uptick, unemployment has significantly improved from a year …

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The Curtain Rises, At Last

On an evening in early June, people lounged in camp chairs and blankets on the grass at Point State Park, lines formed at food booths on the edge of the lawn and people stood shoulder-to-shoulder, swaying to the sounds of blues rock and soul music performed by Celisse on the main stage. It was more …

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Region Adds Jobs, but Needs More

The Pittsburgh region welcomed back thousands of jobs in June but will need sustained gains to climb back to pre-pandemic employment levels. The seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area gained 57,800 jobs from June 2020 to June 2021, including 9,300 jobs since May 2021. “Jobs are up more than you would seasonally expect here for the …

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