For The Tribune-Democrat
The state Department of Labor and Industry announced Wednesday that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the Johnstown Metropolitan Statistical area (MSA) dropped one-tenth of a percentage point to 8.9 percent in October.
It was the first decline in the MSA’s jobless rate since March.
By comparison, Pennsylvania’s rate decreased one-tenth to 8.1 percent, while the national rate rose by a like amount to 7.9 percent.
The local area joined the state in showing small increases during the year, while the U.S. rate dropped a full percentage point.
Cambria County had the 52nd highest unemployment rate out of 67 counties in the state. Unemployment rates of neighboring counties were: Blair, 7.5 percent; Bedford, 9.0 percent; and Somerset, 9.0 percent.
According to Industry and Business Analyst Ismael Fertenbaugh, October job gains in the Johnstown MSA were restricted to service producing industries, with private service-producing jobs showing the majority of the movement.
Schools and universities continued to show seasonal gains, with education and health services up 500 jobs and local government jobs increasing by 300.
During the year, gains in the MSA were limited to private service providers.
Professional and business services posted the largest increase, up 300 from one year ago.
Overall employment reached 60,500 jobs, marking the second time this year that the job level exceeded the same month in 2011.
This trend is a key indicator of the level of economic activity in our area, while to some extent reflecting the magnitude of the economic recovery.
Seasonal trends normally dominate job changes in the fourth quarter led by increases in retail trade during the holiday season.
However, this year there is little evidence locally that consumers are more confident about the job market which may not bode well for retailers.
Rick Bausher, store manager of Boscov’s Department Store, at The Galleria in Richland Township, stated that “while people are buying more this year, the job market continues to be very challenging.”