State unemployment rate falls to 4.8 percent last month


Unemployment rates in Washington and Greene counties jumped in July, one month after they dropped in both.

Washington’s figure rose three-tenths of a percentage point over the month, from 3.9% to 4.2%, while Greene’s climbed five-tenths, from 4.2% to 4.7%. The state Department of Labor & Industry released those seasonally adjusted statistics Tuesday.

The figure for each county last month was the same as it was in July 2018.

Pennsylvania’s rate rose one-tenth to 3.9%, after being at 3.8% the previous three months. The national figure remained at 3.7%.

Washington is one of seven counties in the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, where the July rate also was unchanged at 3.8 percent. That again matches the record low for the MSA, where statistics have been kept since 1976. The jobless figure increased by at least three-tenths in all seven counties.

Washington’s labor force, according to Labor & Industry, was 106,100 in July, down 300 from June. July employment was 101,700, a decrease of 500. The number of residents listed as unemployed increased by 400 to 4,500.

Greene’s labor force (16,600) remained the same over the month, while the number employed (15,800) decreased by 100 from June and the amount listed as unemployed jumped by 100 to 800.

At 4.2%, Washington, Westmoreland and Beaver tied for the third-lowest countywide rate in the MSA (which also includes Pittsburgh). Butler County had the lowest figure, 3.6%, followed by Allegheny (3.9). Armstrong (4.7) was sixth and Fayette (5.6) seventh.

Unemployment in July was lower than it was a year earlier in every county except Washington.

Adams and Center (2.9%) shared the lowest jobless rate among the state’s 67 counties. Snyder (6.2) had the highest.

The MSA lost 3,200 seasonally adjusted non-farm jobs last month, dropping the total to 1,184,700. Over the year, the MSA was down 400 jobs. Statewide jobs rose 0.5% from the previous July.

Among supersectors, government (6,100) and education and health services (2,400) posted declines over the month primarily due to staff being released for summer break at public schools and colleges. Trade, transportation and utilities lost 4,100 jobs and hit a record low of 205,000, again mostly because of summer break at schools.

Construction (1,100) added the most jobs among all supersectors in July.

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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