More people have jobs, and fewer people are looking for work. That combination has dropped the statewide unemployment rate to 8.1% — down two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month. It snaps a string of four consecutive months in which Pennsylvania’s jobless rate was moving in the wrong direction. “It’s a big relief actually to see across the board good news,” says Keystone Research Center Labor Economist Mark Price.
Labor force data released by the Department of Labor & Industry finds that resident unemployment rose by 30,000, while the number of out-of-work Pennsylvanians fell by 11,000. A separate state report on non-farm jobs cites growth in eight of 11 supersectors. The biggest gains were in Leisure & Hospitality, which added 4,000 jobs for the month of October.
Price says the public sector stopped shedding jobs in October, contributing to the positive report. “We’re still seeing jobs gains in the private sector, and no losses in the public sector combine to make this a better month than we’ve seen in a while,” Price tells Radio PA. While the unemployment rate hit its recent peak at 8.8% in early 2010, the Keystone State is now out of the woods yet. Price says it needs to add another 237,000 to get back to what economists would call full employment.