Job growth in the Pittsburgh region appears to have been on hiatus over the summer. After a couple of months of strong job growth in the spring, no real progress was made in rebuilding the region’s job base over the summer. In September, we had 2.5% fewer jobs than two years earlier (before the recessionary job losses began to hit here), exactly the same shortfall as we had in June.
Compared to other regions (using seasonally adjusted figures), our lackluster job performance over the summer is about average. Atlanta, Denver, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Phoenix, and St. Louis added net jobs over the summer compared to seasonal norms, whereas Pittsburgh lost a little ground on that measure, although not as much as a number of regions in California did.
The net result of the job growth we experienced in the spring and the lack of significant change over the summer is that we had 7,000 more jobs in September than a year earlier (September, 2009). About half of the region’s industries added net jobs over the past twelve months, but the other half lost jobs, meaning that significant dislocations have continued to occur for many workers. The biggest job generator over the past year has been in the broad category of “administrative, support, waste management, and remediation,” which includes everything from janitorial services to temporary employment. There has also been a significant recovery in the retail sector; Pittsburgh has seen higher job growth in retail over the past year than most regions in the country, which is likely due to the fact that the region did not have the retail overbuilding that occurred in many areas of the country.
Although having 7,000 more jobs in the Pittsburgh Region than a year ago is progress, it’s far short of what we need to recover from the recession. There are still over 29,000 fewer jobs here than two years ago, so it’s not surprising that there are still over 30,000 more people unemployed than two years ago. Most of our industries continue to employ several thousand fewer workers than before the recession; the only exceptions are health care, higher education, mining, and the leisure and hospitality industries. Manufacturing remains the hardest hit, with 13,600 fewer jobs than two years ago. The only good news about manufacturing is that employment has been steady throughout 2010 – no gains, but no more losses. It will be extremely difficult for the region to recover if it cannot regain many of those manufacturing jobs.