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Jobless rate nudges up

Unemployment nudged up slightly for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area in July to 6.3 percent as the region struck an all-time high in total nonfarm jobs.

The region hit a record of 266,300 nonfarm jobs in July, besting the past high of 263,900 jobs in the summer of 2007, according to data released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor & Industry. The tally of jobs in the three-county area was up 3.7 percent for the year, or 9,400 jobs. That rate of growth exceeded the statewide average of 1.1 percent.

That pace of nonfarm job growth exceeded the state because the area was slow to recover from the recession, said Robert Seeley, Ph.D., associate professor of economics at Wilkes University.

“This part of the state usually recovers later than other places such as Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia,” Dr. Seeley said. “We got to the party late, but arriving late is better than missing it all together.”

The one-tenth of a percentage point increase in seasonally adjusted joblessness, while essentially flat, gives the region the third-highest rate among the state’s 18 metro areas in July. Only East Stroudsburg and Johnstown had unemployment greater than the metro area’s 6.3 percent.

Steven Zellers, an analyst with the state Department of Labor & Industry, said movement of one- or two-tenths of a percentage point are usually statistically insignificant.

“A tenth or two-tenths is not that big of a deal,” Mr. Zellers said.

June’s preliminary unemployment rate of 6.1 was finalized upward to 6.2 as more data was received.

In July, the labor force jumped 2,000 and the ranks of those working climbed 1,500. Both are positive signs, but trends that cancel each other when reflected in the unemployment rate, said Dr. Seeley.

“Both of those are encouraging signs,” he said. “Obviously, more people working is good. Also, more people actively looking for work is good because they sense better chances. Since all those people don’t find jobs, that can add to the unemployment rate.”

Luzerne County joblessness was 6.4 percent, Lackawanna, 5.9 percent, and Wyoming, 6 percent. Joblessness in the U.S. was 5.3 percent and Pennsylvania was 5.4.

In related news, Oil and gas jobs outnumbered steel jobs in Pennsylvania last year.

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This article was written by David Falchek from The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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