While the unemployment rates for Pennsylvania and the nation remained low in May, they rose sharply in Washington and Greene counties.

Washington’s rate was 4.0 percent and Greene’s 4.7 percent, according to seasonally adjusted statistics released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor & Industry. Washington County’s figure rose three-tenths of a point from 3.7 percent in April, while Greene’s rate jumped four-tenths from 4.3.

The May figure for each county was one-tenth below that of May 2018.

Pennsylvania’s rate (3.8) and the U.S. rate (3.6) held steady from April.

Washington is one of seven counties in the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, where the May rate also was unchanged at 3.8 percent. That matches a record low for the MSA, where statistics have been kept since 1976. And that was a curious circumstance, for each of those seven counties experienced an increase in unemployment of 0.3 to 0.4 percent

Washington’s labor force, according to Labor & Industry, was 106,400 in May, up 200 from the previous month but down 300 from March. May employment was 102,100, a decrease of 200 from April and 600 from March. The number of county residents listed as unemployed jumped from 3,900 to 4,300.

Greene’s labor force (16,700) and number employed (16,000) remained the same over the month, but the number of residents listed as unemployed increased by 100 to 800.

Despite the bump upward, Washington had the third-lowest countywide rate in the MSA (which also includes Pittsburgh). Butler County had the lowest figure, 3.6 percent, followed by Allegheny (3.8); Washington; Westmoreland and Beaver (both 4.1); Armstrong (4.6) and Fayette (5.2).

Unemployment in May, however, was lower in each of those counties than it was a year earlier. .

Adams (2.8) had the lowest rate among the state’s 67 counties. Snyder County (6.1) had the highest.

Statewide, there were 1,193,100 nonfarm jobs last month, equivalent to the April figure. Among supersectors, leisure and hospitality had the largest employment increase over the month (4,800), while construction hit a record high 64,500 after adding 3,500 jobs. (Both supersectors are seasonal.)

Summer break at local colleges and universities led to job declines in education and health services (3,600) and government (1,000).

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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