Unemployment rates continued their downward trajectory across Southwestern Pennsylvania in March, the second consecutive month they have fallen throughout most of the region.

Washington County’s figure dropped to 7.7%, three-tenths of a percentage point lower than in February, while Greene’s rate dripped one-tenth of a point to 8.1%, according to seasonally adjusted statistics released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor & Industry.

These latest indicators are up from March 2020, when the pandemic began to wrack Pennsylvania. But the year-over-year unemployment gap has been diminishing in recent months. Washington County’s jobless rate in March 2020 was 6.3%, Greene’s 7.6%.

Fayette and Westmoreland counties each experienced a decline of four-tenths last month – Fayette to 9.6%, Westmoreland to 7.1%. Fayette’s March 2020 figure was 8.5%, Westmoreland’s 6.1%.

Washington, Fayette and Westmoreland are among the seven counties comprising the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, where the rate remained at 7.5%. The MSA jobless figure was 5.9% in March 2020.

Greene County is not in the MSA.

Unemployment statewide was 7.3% last month, and the national figure was 6.0%.

Washington’s labor force, according to Labor & Industry, was 104,200 in March, the same as in February. Employment (96,200) increased by 400, while the number of county residents listed as unemployed (8,000) dropped by 400.

Greene County’s labor force (16,000) and employment (14,700) each rose by 100 over the month. The number of unemployed remained at 1,300.

Fayette’s workforce (55,600) stayed the same. Employment (50,300) rose by 300 and unemployment (5,300) fell by 300.

Butler County again had the lowest jobless figure (6.1%) in the MSA, which also includes Pittsburgh. All seven counties experienced monthly declines, ranging from Washington (three-tenths) to Armstrong (six-tenths).

Allegheny County (7.0%) had the second-lowest rate in the MSA, followed by Westmoreland (7.1%); Washington and Armstrong (both 7.7%); Beaver (8.1%) and Fayette (9.6%).

Seasonally adjusted non-farm jobs across the MSA increased by 0.1% from February, a bump of 1,300 to 1,106,600. Year over year, though, jobs were down 6.5% – a total of 76,400. Jobs statewide likewise declined by 6.1% from March 2020.

Eight of the Pittsburgh MSA’s 11 supersectors experienced jobs growth in March. The largest increase (3,400) was in leisure & hospitality.

The number of jobs were down from March 2020 in all 11 MSA and state supersectors.

Business Writer

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won eight individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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