Blog: PA Payrolls Essentially Unchanged in January But Jobless Rate Falls to 6.4%

Mark PriceCross posted at Third and State

Today was an unusual first Friday of the month as we got both a national release of job numbers for February and a Pennsylvania jobs release for January.

Both reports were a mixed bag:

  • National payrolls grew a bit faster than expectations, but the unemployment rate climbed to 6.7% in February.
  • Pennsylvania payrolls grew by a disappointing 500 jobs in January, but the unemployment rate declined four-tenths of one percentage point to 6.4%.

Those of you hoping to see how other states fared in January relative to Pennsylvania will have to wait until March 17 when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases January jobs data for all 50 states. In the meantime, check out the Keystone Research Center's recent policy brief finding that in 2013 Pennsylvania ranked 48th out of the 50 states in job growth, creating about a quarter of the number of jobs last year as it did in 2010.

As is standard operating procedure, the release of state jobs data for January corresponds with the release of newly revised and updated unemployment and nonfarm payroll data for previous months. These revisions typically don’t change employment and unemployment trends radically. Unfortunately, some technical glitches on the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry's website are preventing a full review of the new benchmarked data, so I will let you know next week if there are any changes of note.

For more on the national jobs report, here are two quick takes from D.C.'s leading labor economists, Dean Baker of the Center on Economic and Policy Research and Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute:

The establishment survey showed the economy added 175,000 jobs in February, in spite of the unusually harsh weather on much of the country. With modest upward revisions to the prior two months' data, this brings the 3-month average to 129,000. While this is considerably weaker than the fall months, weather has undoubtedly played a role in slowing job creation. (In contrast to the prior two months, February’s weather was unusually harsh.)
  

But the main point of the table [see below] is that the unemployment rate is between 1.4 and 1.7 times as high now as it was six years ago for all age, education, occupation, gender, and racial and ethnic groups. Today’s sustained high unemployment relative to 2007, across all major groups, underscores the fact that the jobs crisis stems from a broad-based lack of demand. In particular, unemployment is not high because workers lack adequate education or skills; rather, a lack of demand for goods and services makes it unnecessary for employers to significantly ramp up hiring. [My emphasis]