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Employment picture improves in Pa.’s distressed communities

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(Undated) — Pennsylvania’s workforce grew and unemployment rate dropped last year, even in its distressed communities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Businesses in Philadelphia contributed more than any other of the state’s 14 metro to the statewide jobs increase, according to WITF’s analysis of data released by the Bureau earlier this week.

The rate of unemployment among state residents went down by two percentage points to 5.1 percent statewide, lower than 5.9 percent national rate.

Unemployment rates were lower than the national average in all regions except Johnstown, Lancaster and Lebanon, which each have an equivalent 5.9 percent rate.

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Eight of the 14 exceeded the statewide rate.

State College has the lowest at 3.5 percent, a decrease from the year prior of 2.3 percent.

Johnstown, Williamsport and Scranton-Wilkes Barre – all regions with urban centers engaged in the state’s Act 47 process for distressed communities – also saw 2.3 percent decreases.

The other metro regions saw less dramatic drops:

April 2014 unemployment rate, percentage points change since April 2013

  • Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton: 5.5% (2)
  • Altoona: 4.8 % (1.6)
  • Erie: 5.4% (1.7)
  • Harrisburg-Carlisle: 4.3% (2)
  • Johnstown: 5.9% (2.3)
  • Lancaster: 4% (1.9)
  • Lebanon: 4.1% (1.8)
  • Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington: 5.6% (2)
  • Pittsburgh: 4.7% (1.7)
  • Reading: 5% (2.2)
  • Scranton-Wilkes-Barre: 6.4% (2.3)
  • State College: 3.5% (2.3)
  • Williamsport: 5.4% (2.3)
  • York-Hanover: 4.7% (2.1)

Workforces grew in all metro except Scranton-Wilkes Barre and York-Hanover, according to WITF’s analysis.

That might seem contradictory, given the unemployment rate dropped there during the same year.

But the residential population’s job status determines an area’s employment and unemployment rates, while workforce – or payroll – measures the total number of people employed by business in that area, regardless of where those employees live, according to the Bureau.

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