The Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose three-tenths of a percentage point in January, reaching 9.8 percent. It was the highest rate among Pennsylvania’s 14 metro areas, which continued a streak that has now reached 33 consecutive months.
As with many data-filled reports, there is good news and bad news, said Anthony Liuzzo, director of the master of business administration program at Wilkes University.
While the unemployment rate climbed to 10.7 percent in Luzerne County and 9.6 percent in Lackawanna County, it fell slightly to 11.4 percent in Wyoming County. Looking beyond the monthly rates, and instead comparing year-to-year tallies for the total number of people working in the three counties, you’ll find there are 7,100 more people employed this January than last.
But even better news, Liuzzo said, is that there were 10,000 more people in the job-seekers pool. That means the economy is improving and people are feeling confident that there are jobs available.
“You want to see movement, you want to see action. You don’t want to see stagnancy,” Liuzzo said. “We want people looking for jobs that otherwise would be sitting at home on their butts giving up.” He said the most recent report shows an attitude shift for job seekers who have a hope they may not have had a year ago.
To Liuzzo, the report is proof that the economy is slowly improving, and not just locally.
Pennsylvania’s rate increase was also three-tenths of a percentage point in January, climbing to 8.2 percent. The United States’ rate rose one-tenth of a percentage point from December to January settling at 7.9 percent. Over the past year, from January 2012 to January 2013, the U.S. rate has fallen four-tenths of a point, Pennsylvania’s rate rose six-tenths, and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metro region’s rate rose eight-tenths.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metro region’s seasonally adjusted total non-farm jobs decreased by 800 over the month to 256,600, but the metro gained 1,900 jobs over the year.
Educational services and local government educational services experienced typical January declines as schools were on winter break. The month-to-month decline was at 1,900 for this sector but year to year, the sector saw an increase of 800 workers.
Mining, logging and construction jobs were down by 800 month to month and 100 over the year, as cold weather hampered construction.
January brought the end of the holiday shopping and shipping season, which impacted several industries: retail trade and transportation, utilities and warehousing jobs were both down over the month, by 1,800 and 200 jobs respectively. But like other sectors that saw month-to-month declines, they each saw year-to-year increases: retail trade by 500 and transportation, utilities and warehousing by 1,600.