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Sign of economic recovery?

County jobless rate drops to 12%

July 2, 2020 Digital Media Exclusive

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The jobless rate in Butler County dropped nearly 3 percentage points in May, showing signs of an economic recovery after COVID-19-related business closures.

Data released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor & Industry showed the county's May unemployment rate at 12 percent, a 2.7-point decrease from its April high and the lowest in the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The numbers were encouraging in the wake of state-mandated shutdowns in a variety of industries, especially as the county did not enter the “yellow” phase of reopening until May 15. Jobless figures come from the “key week,” which in May was the week ending May 16.

May's numbers offer hints of optimism in industries most afflicted by pandemic-related shutdown orders. Across the southwest region, about 20,000 service-providing jobs were restored, although that number is about 160,000 less than it was in March. “Goods-producing” jobs — such as mining, construction and manufacturing — saw a 24,000-job rebound, with a slightly lower decrease from March — about 18,000.

Education and health services seem to continually be affected by the state of the economy as, across the region, 4,600 more jobs in those industries were lost between April and May for an overall decrease since March of roughly 40,000.

Across the state, the unemployment rate dropped from 17 percent in April to 13.7 percent in May.

The largest gains in employment came from the construction sector, which recovered about two-thirds of job losses from March and April.

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Alex J. Weidenhof

Alex J. Weidenhof