Unemployment Drops As Workforce Expands

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Southwestern Pennsylvania saw unemployment continue to fall in February and, over the previous 12 months, added more than 8,000 workers to its workforce, which has struggled to expand in recent years, U.S. Bureau of Labor data show.

The unemployment rate in the seven-​county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area dropped to 3.6 percent in February, down from 4.7 percent in February 2018. The rate is the lowest seen in the region since February 1970. The data suggest more than 14,000 workers found jobs over that period.

And for the second consecutive month, unemployment in the region hovered lower the national unemployment rate of 3.8 percent, which suggests a tight local labor force.

Every county in the region reported lower year-​over-​year unemployment in February, although rates and the degree of change vary among counties. In Butler County, unemployment fell to 3.3 percent unemployment, the lowest rate in the Pittsburgh MSA. In Fayette County, unemployment settled at in February, which remains the highest rate in the region, despite a decline of 1.4 points over the previous 12 months. Unemployment dropped from 4.7 percent to 3.6 percent in Allegheny County, the center of commerce in the region and its most populous county.

Recent monthly job growth data showed limited gains in regional job opportunities in February. But the region isn’t losing workers. Year-​over-​year jobs data suggest the region’s workforce expanded in February for the second consecutive month, adding 8,300 workers over the previous 12 months.

Julia Fraser

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

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