Washington, Greene jobless rates again below U.S., state

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Unemployment rates plummeted in Washington and Greene counties in April, with the Greene figure dropping below 5 percent.


Seasonally adjusted numbers released by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry Wednesday list Washington County’s rate at 5.3 percent, down seven-tenths of a point from March, and Greene’s at 4.8 percent, down eight-tenths of a point.


Last month’s figures, impressively, are nearly 2 percent lower than those from April 2013 – Washington dropped 1.8 points from 7.1 percent a year earlier, and Greene 1.9 points from 6.7 percent.


Both counties’ numbers also are below the U.S. (6.3 percent) and Pennsylvania (5.7) rates for April.


Washington County has been below the national rate 14 of the past 15 months; the exception was this past November, when both numbers were 7.0 percent. Washington also has been under the Pennsylvania figure for at least 18 of the past 19 months; both the county and state were at 6.0 percent in March.


Greene’s rate has been beneath both sets of numbers for at least the past 19 months.


Washington is one of seven counties comprising the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had an April rate of 5.6 percent, down 0.2 percent from March and well below 6.9 percent from a year earlier. That was the 11th consecutive monthly decline of at least 0.1 percent for the MSA, which also includes Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette and Westmoreland.


Butler County had the lowest jobless rate in the MSA (4.7 percent) during April, and Fayette (7.3) had the highest. Allegheny (5.0) had the second lowest figure, followed by a tie between Washington and Westmoreland (5.3), then Beaver (5.9) and Armstrong (6.4).


Pittsburgh tied two other MSAs – Altoona and York-Hanover – for the fifth-lowest rate among Pennsylvania’s 14 MSAs.


Nonfarm jobs in the Pittsburgh MSA increased by 8,900 in April to 1,163,300, a marked contrast from March, when nonfarm jobs declined by 2,400. For the first four months of the year, jobs were up 5,600 (0.5 percent) in the MSA and up 0.6 percent statewide.


The MSA experienced increases in two jobs categories last month: construction (by 7,800 to 55,200) and leisure and hospitality (more than 8,100).


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