Area’s jobless rate heads higher

First Posted: 10/1/2013

The skids were put on a six-month streak of decreasing unemployment rates in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metropolitan statistical area. The rate increased in August, up one-tenth of one percentage point to a seasonally-adjusted 9.2 percent.

While one streak ended, another continued — as it marked the 41st consecutive month the tri-county region that includes Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wyoming had the highest rate of the state’s 14 metro areas.

The state’s unemployment rate in August also edged up, to 7.7 percent, a two-tenths of a percentage point increase, while the national unemployment rate dropped a tenth of a percent to 7.3 percent. Even with the slight movement up or down from month to month, when compared to the same point last year the drops are noticeable.

Over the past year, the MSA’s rate’s movement mirrored that of Pennsylvania’s rate, both having decreased four-tenths of a point, while the U.S. rate dropped eight-tenths.

According to data released Tuesday by the state department of Labor and Industry, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metro area’s seasonally adjusted non-farm jobs increased by 1,400 to 254,600 from July to August. Over the year, the MSA was up 800 jobs, an increase of 0.3 percent, while the state gained 39,100 jobs, up 0.7 percent. The region’s labor force declined by 500, which played a role in keeping the rate increase to a minimum.

The sectors that were the strongest included trade, transportation and utilities, which were up both over the month and over the year, and leisure and hospitality, which regained the record-high level of 24,900 jobs first reached in June, and was up 1,300 jobs over the year.

Educational services and local government educational services, in an expected seasonal movement, were both up slightly over the month. Local government educational services also was up slightly over the year.

In a surprise, health care and social assistance jobs decreased by 1,200 since August 2012, driven in large part by an over-the-year drop of 700 jobs within the MSA’s hospital sector. The hospital sector, at 8,700 jobs, was at a record low for the region.

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