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Pennsylvania’s unemployment edges upward to 5.3 percent

The jobless rate in southwestern Pennsylvania ticked up to 5.3 percent in September, but employers cut fewer jobs and fewer people left the labor force, according to state numbers released on Tuesday.

At 5.3 percent, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in the Pittsburgh area was two-tenths of a percentage point higher than in August, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry.

The regional rate was the same as statewide rate of 5.3 percent in September and higher than the national rate of 5.1 percent. Last month’s Pittsburgh-area rate was unchanged from September 2014.

The regional jobless rate, calculated across seven counties in southwestern Pennsylvania, ranks Pittsburgh 10th among the state’s 18 metro areas in lowest unemployment. Centre and Chester counties led the state at 3.7 percent.

Pittsburgh’s workforce stayed flat at about 1.2 million people in September — a notable figure because the state reported 3,900 workers left the regional workforce in August, according to seasonally adjusted data.

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About 1,700 more people were counted as being out of work last month, while 1,700 fewer were employed. The government defines unemployed people as those without jobs who are available for work and who make specific efforts to find employment.

Meanwhile, employers in the Pittsburgh region cut 1,600 net jobs from their payrolls, according to the monthly job count that is not adjusted for the usual gains and losses considered normal for the time of year. That compares with 8,600 net jobs lost in August.

The jobless rate varied widely among counties in the Pittsburgh area. Butler and Allegheny counties had the lowest rate at 4.7 and 4.9 percent respectively. In the middle, Westmoreland and Washington counties reported 5.4 and 5.7 percent. Beaver County had 6 percent, and Armstrong County had 7.2 percent.

Fayette County reported the highest jobless rate in the region at 7.4 percent.

Economists have said the long view of the economy is promising and that employers are gradually growing their payrolls.

Though month-to-month employment has fallen, there were 14,900 more jobs regionally last month than in September 2014. And the labor force, despite shrinking for several months in a row, still has about 16,000 more people than it did in September 2014.

Some of the biggest gains were seen in educational services, which added 5,200 jobs in September, likely due in part to the start of school. Government gained 9,300 jobs, most of them in municipal positions.

Leisure and hospitality — which encompasses restaurants, hotels and tourism-related employers — posted the month’s biggest loss of 7,400 jobs with the end of the summer vacation season. The sector, however, had 4,900 more jobs than September 2014.

Daniel Moore: dmoore@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2743 and Twitter @PGdanielmoore.

This article was written by Daniel Moore from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.