Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pa. unemployme­nt rate fell to 4.8 percent in March

- By Daniel Moore Daniel Moore: dmoore@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2743.

Pennsylvan­ia’s seasonally adjusted unemployme­nt rate fell twotenths of a percent to 4.8 percent in March, as more people who had joined the labor force to look for work found jobs, according to the state Department of Labor and Industry’s monthly data released on Friday.

Over the year, the unemployme­nt rate fell from 5.4 percent in March 2016, the report showed, as the number of people counted as unemployed dropped by 38,000 to 311,000 last month. Meanwhile, the count of employed people increased by 41,000 over the last year.

The labor force — employed and unemployed people combined — stayed about flat. The government counts people as part of the labor force when they take specific actions to look for a job.

Annual job growth in March stood at about 1 percent, slower than in February. Employers across the state have opened up about 60,600 more jobs since March 2016. From February to March, the state lost about 16,000 jobs, according to the report.

Comparing industries over the year, seven of the 11 industry groups saw growth in available jobs. Education and health services led the way by adding 40,800 payroll positions, a 3.4 percent gain since March 2016. Constructi­on added 6,700 jobs, or 2.8 percent of its workforce, and profession­al and business services added 10,700 positions, for 1.4 percent growth.

Mining and logging suffered a 12 percent cut — from nearly 26,100 to 23,500 positions. Manufactur­ing cut 6,800 jobs, or about 1 percent.

The falling unemployme­nt rate this year bucks the trend seen throughout much of 2016. The state’s jobless rate rose nearly a full percentage point, reaching nearly 6 percent, as more people joined the labor force to look for work again. This year, the data suggests, those unemployed people are finding jobs, causing the unemployme­nt rate to drop.

It’s unclear whether figures through the first three months will throw off the longer-term trend. Economists typically measure workforce changes over several months at a time.

The latest data are tentative and will be revised for next month’s statewide report. The state is scheduled to release March data on the Pittsburgh region on May 2.

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