The Great Recession and the slow economic recovery that followed have hit Pennsylvania families hard. Unemployment in the commonwealth remains high, and many people are struggling to make ends meet. In February, Pennsylvania's unemployment rate stood at 6.2%, one-half of a percentage point below the U.S. rate of 6.7%.
National payrolls grew a bit faster than expectations in February, but the unemployment rate climbed to 6.7%. Meanwhile, in a separate state jobs report, Pennsylvania payrolls grew by a disappointing 500 jobs in January, while the unemployment rate declined four-tenths of one percentage point to 6.4%.
With Pennsylvania's December jobs report out today, we are able to draw a few conclusions about job growth in 2013 — and the news is mostly not good. Monthly job growth continued to decelerate across the commonwealth last year, and while the unemployment rate dropped by more than a percentage point from January to December, much of that is linked to a shrinking labor force rather than booming job growth.
One of the many lingering side effects of the shutdown of the federal government in October was a delay in the release of Pennsylvania jobs data for September. Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics gives us our first look at the September jobs numbers along with preliminary numbers for October. The job numbers were all around disappointing.