County jobless rate falls to 7.9 percent
Indiana County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped in February to 7.9 percent, down a full percent over the month. This followed two consecutive months of large rate increases for the county and moved the Indiana rate back below the statewide rate.
Indiana County’s rate of 7.9 percent ranked 31st among Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, tied with Erie, McKean, Mifflin and Northampton counties.
According to analysts with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Indiana County’s total nonfarm jobs count rose by 1,200 in February to 35,800 jobs. As winter break ended and classes began for some schools and universities, job gains in government (up 900) and education and health services (up 100) dominated the increase in nonfarm jobs. Despite this large seasonal increase, the county was down 600 jobs from the previous year due to losses in goods-producing jobs, equally spread among manufacturing employers and mining, logging and construction businesses.
The adjacent counties also had large drops in the unemployment rate after two months with large increases. Westmoreland, at 7.5 percent, had the smallest over-the-month decline, down seven-tenths, while Jefferson County, at 8.3 percent, had the largest decrease, dropping 1.2 percent in February. Clearfield County, at 8.8 percent, fell 1.1 percent while Armstrong County, at 8.5 percent, was down a full percent. Cambria County’s rate was 9.4 percent, and its small gain of one-tenth of a percent made it one of only two counties statewide to see an increase in February.
February unemployment rates for all Pennsylvania counties ranged from 5.7 percent in Montour County to 11.3 percent in Cameron County. Pennsylvania’s rate was down one-tenth to 8.1 percent while the U.S. rate dropped two-tenths to 7.7 percent.
In February, Indiana County’s seasonally adjusted labor force fell by 200 to 48,300; the number of employed residents increased by 300 to 44,500; and the number of unemployed residents dropped by 500 to 3,800.