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County unemployment rates rose at least a full percentage point across Southwestern Pennsylvania in January.

Washington County’s figure climbed to 8.1%, up from 7.1% in December, and Greene’s was at 8.3%, up 1.0 point as well, according to seasonally adjusted statistics released Thursday by the state Department of Labor & Industry.

These latest indicators are in stark contrast from pre-pandemic January 2020, when Washington was at 4.8% joblessness and Greene at 6.0%.

Fayette experienced the largest monthly rise among the seven counties comprising the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area. Fayette’s rate bumped up 1.4 points, from 8.6% to 10.0% – the highest in the MSA. The county’s January 2020 figure was 6.6%.

Westmoreland’s figure rose a point, from 6.7% to 7.7%. Its rate a year earlier was 4.8%.

Unemployment statewide was 7.3% in January, and the national figure was 6.3%.

Washington, Fayette and Westmoreland counties are in the Pittsburgh MSA, where the January rate was 7.6%, up 0.8 points over the month. The MSA rate was 4.7% in January 2020.

Greene County is not in the MSA.

Washington’s labor force, according to Labor & Industry, was 103,300 in January, the same as in December. Employment (94,900) was down 600 from the previous month, while the number of county residents listed as unemployed (8,300) increased by 1,000.

Greene County’s labor force (15,800) dipped by 400 over the month; employment (14,500) declined by 600; and the number of unemployed (1,300) rose by 100.

Fayette’s workforce (55,200) increased by 100, but employment (49,700) declined by 700 over the month and the number listed as unemployed (5,500) climbed by 800.

Butler County again had the lowest jobless figure (6.6%) in the MSA, which also includes Pittsburgh. Butler also had the MSA’s smallest monthly decline, seven-tenths of a point. All other counties posted a bump of at least nine-tenths.

Allegheny County (7.6%) had the second-lowest figure in the MSA, followed by Westmoreland (7.7%), Washington (8.1%), Armstrong (8.3%), Beaver (8.7%) and Fayette (10.0%).

Seasonally adjusted non-farm jobs across the MSA increased by 1.1% from December, a bump of 11,500 to 1,103,000. Year over year, however, jobs were down 7.5% – a total of 90,000. Jobs statewide likewise declined by 7.5% from December.

A number of the Pittsburgh MSA’s 11 supersectors experienced seasonally driven drop-offs in jobs. The largest (5,200) was in trade, transportation & utilities, as the holiday shopping and shipping season expired. Winter break at schools and colleges caused the second-largest dip (4,000) – in education & health services – followed by government (3,300).

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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