While reports from the U.S. Department of Laboron Friday show the nation hitting a snag in efforts to lower unemployment rates, Pennsylvania is boasting a somewhat rosier picture than the rest of the country.
Figures from the report showed the nation's economy adding only 54,000 non-farm jobs in May. The unemployment rate also inched back up to 9.1 percent from 9 percent the month before, reflecting about 14 million people unemployed. The report was generally considered to be a huge disappointment after an impressive April in which 232,000 jobs were added.
Western Pennsylvania counties by and large have been faring better than the national average of 9.2 percent unemployment, according to recent Department of Labor figures.
The seven counties that make up the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical area all saw lower unemployment rates than a year ago based on March comparisons.
Allegheny County had the lowest rate of unemployment at 7.0 percent. Butler and Beaver counties were second lowest with a 7.2 percent unemployment rate and Washington and Westmoreland counties followed at 7.8 percent unemployment.
However, Fayette and Armstrong counties had the highest unemployment rates at 9.6 and 9.5 percent, respectively.
While Pennsylvania’s latest unemployment figures won’t be released until mid-June, Christopher Manlove, spokesman for the state Department of Labor & Industry, also noted its numbers of jobless residents have been trending downward in recent months.
“It’s a significant decrease for a pretty extended period of time,” he said. “I would say we are faring better than the rest of the nation as a whole.”
He said the state's unemployment rate in April was 7.5 percent, or 1.3 percentage points lower than the rate at the same time in 2010. This is the largest single-year decrease in the state since 1987, and it could presage more good news for last month’s numbers, he said.
“When you look at the unemployment rate, you’re looking at a picture of the past, and for some time now the state’s rate has been trending down,” he said. “We hope that continues.”