PA Unemployment Drops, Job Growth Still Weak

We're not producing jobs; we're just giving up.

Here’s the good news: Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate has dipped to 6.4 percent —the lowest rate since November 2008.

Here’s the less good news: That number only looks good because Pennsylvania’s workforce keeps shrinking. People are giving up on finding work here, which leaves a tighter labor pool with lower unemployment behind.

Here’s the numbers to prove it:

The workforce actually lost 8,000 members between December and January; that could be seasonal fluctuation, but since January 2013 there are 74,000 fewer Pennsylvanians trying to find work. (That 1.1 percent decline in the size of the state workforce, incidentally, quintuples the national decline of 0.2 percent.)

That’s how a 0.3 percent increase in the number of employed Pennsylvanians—just 18,000 new jobs over the course of a year—somehow translate to a 1.4 percent drop in unemployment over the same time period.

Stop us if you’ve heard this story before.

It’s not that we’re producing jobs; instead, we’re just about leading the nation in giving up.