August Job Growth Disappoints in Pennsylvania

Mark Price |

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that nonfarm payrolls in Pennsylvania grew by 100 jobs in August and the unemployment rate edged up slightly to 5.8%.

To be clear that 100 is not missing a zero.

The jobs picture with respect to resident employment was actually substantially worse as 35,000 fewer residents reported having a job in August.

The first point as always with employment data is we should be cautious about interpreting a single month of data.  As Figure 1 illustrates while Pennsylvania added 2,450 jobs a month in 2013, the pace of job growth so far this year has been stronger with the commonwealth adding 4,300 jobs a month.

The primary motor of job growth in Pennsylvania since January has been the construction industry which has been growing much faster in Pennsylvania than in the rest of the country.  That pattern reversed itself in August as the construction sector lost more jobs than any other sector (down 3,000 over the month).

This drives home that job growth in Pennsylvania remains unhealthy in that when we have gotten good news in recent months that good news has depended on strong growth in one sector, construction.

For more on Pennsylvania’s recent economic performance be sure to check out the State of Working Pennsylvania 2014.  As a final depressing note, remember slow job growth generally means slow or no growth in wages and incomes for most workers and that means a shrinking middle class and rapidly rising top incomes.