The Recession Deepens in Pittsburgh
Although job losses here are still well below the rate of job loss in the U.S. as a whole and in most other large regions, we had a bigger increase in job losses here than most regions between January and February. In fact, over the past two months, the Pittsburgh Region had the third largest increase in the rate of job loss among the top 40 regions. The only regions that got worse faster than we did were the Dallas and Virginia Beach metro areas, both of which, like Pittsburgh, had been doing relatively well until recently.
What caused the sudden jump in job losses here? The single biggest factor was manufacturing - we lost over 6,000 manufacturing jobs in the past year, 3,000 of which were lost in the last month. Whereas the Pittsburgh region had been experiencing one of the smallest losses of manufacturing jobs of any large region throughout 2008, in February we had a higher rate of loss in manufacturing jobs than 22 of the top 40 regions. The Professional and Business Services sector, which had been growing jobs through the end of last year, suddenly fell 2,500 jobs into the negative column, although that was still a smaller loss in percentage terms than 35 of the largest 40 regions in the U.S. And the Leisure and Hospitality sector, which had already lost 4,600 jobs as of January, now has lost 5,300 jobs, making it the second largest contributor to job losses after manufacturing.
Higher education and health care continued to add jobs in the Pittsburgh Region (despite the recession, there were 4,600 more jobs in those two sectors than a year ago), which helped to offset the job losses in other sectors. But based on recent news reports, job gains will likely slow significantly in those sectors in the months ahead, meaning that overall job losses for the region will increase.
The job losses in Manufacturing and Professional and Business Services are particularly troubling, since those are relatively high wage sectors, and the loss of jobs there will likely have ripple effects in the retail and service sectors in the months ahead.