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County jobless rate is lowest in region

October 29, 2020 Digital Media Exclusive

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Newly released jobless data for Butler County show the economic recovery from COVID-19-related shutdowns continues to be strong.

According to the state Department of Labor & Industry, Butler County’s jobless rate in September was 6.7%, or 1.8 percentage points lower than its August rate. Butler remains with the lowest unemployment rate in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has an overall rate of 8.2%.

In the surrounding area, only Clarion County had a lower unemployment rate, at 6.6%, and Lawrence County had the highest portion of its population jobless, at 9.4%.

The county now has fewer than half as many unemployed people as it did during the brunt of the economic shutdowns, when nearly 15% of the county’s working population was left without a job.

Still, however, the county’s employment numbers have not fully recovered from the pain wrought by the coronavirus pandemic and associated state-mandated economic shutdowns. In September 2019, for example, Butler County had a jobless rate of 4%.

But the 2.7-point difference — the county’s jobless rate now is roughly 67% higher than last September — still beats that of surrounding areas, indicating the county’s economic recovery remains strong. Allegheny County’s jobless rate is about 95% higher than last year, Beaver’s about 94%, Lawerence’s around 81% and Mercer’s roughly 80%.

Among the industries that gained the most jobs between August and September in the seven-county metropolitan area were educational services; transportation, warehousing and utilities; and administrative and waste services.

Hospitality workers, in the statistical area, however, continue to feel the weight of the pandemic even after the lifting or lightening of numerous state-implemented restrictions. About 2,000 fewer food service industry workers were employed in September than in August, and more than 33,000 of those jobs have been lost since September 2019.

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