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Local News

PA economy booms as April unemployment stays at record low 3.4%


Danielle Smith, Public News Service

For Pennsylvanians on the hunt for employment opportunities, the Keystone State offers a favorable landscape. The state’s jobless rate stayed at a record low 3.4% in April, better than the national rate of 3.9%.

Maisum Murtaza, research associate at the Keystone Research Center, said the positive trend has been ongoing for months, with the rate hovering between 3.2% and 3.4% over the past year. He pointed out the job market is recovering from the COVID years and workers are starting to gain a bit more power in the labor market.

“A low unemployment rate that persists like that gives workers more levers in the job market individually and together as well as creating more buying power,” Murtaza explained. “We’ve also seen in conjunction with the low persistent unemployment rates, last 12 months, real wages have started to go up.”

Murtaza noted inflation has started to come back under control and the persistence of the effect is helping the labor market recover. The number of nonfarm jobs rose to a record high of more than 6 million, an increase of 2,600 jobs over March and the ninth consecutive monthly increase.

Murtaza reported Pennsylvania added 81,000 jobs to its overall employment over the last 12 months, with education and health services leading the way.

“Over the last 12 months, that industry has gained over 58,000 jobs,” Murtaza outlined. “The largest percent gains in the last 12 months were, of course, with education and health services. Leisure, and hospitality, which is still recovering, because that was probably the industry hit hardest during the COVID years. “

Murtaza added government employment is in third place in terms of the highest percentage growth in employment over the last 12 months.

Pennsylvania mirrors a national trend of historically low unemployment rates for Black workers, despite a recent minor uptick, suggesting a positive overall trend with the blip likely a temporary fluctuation in the data.

This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.