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Pennsylvania jobless rate hits 15.1% as payrolls collapse

The Associated Press
A poster heralds essential workers in the window of Di Di & Smiling John's Barber Shop in York City Friday, May 8, 2020. According to a consultant's report on York County's economic future, up to 30% of local businesses may have to shut their doors permanently. Bill Kalina photo

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate skyrocketed in April at the height of the state’s pandemic-driven shutdown to its highest rate in over four decades of record-keeping, the state Department of Labor and Industry said Friday.

Meanwhile, payrolls fell by more than 1 million to the lowest level in at least three decades.

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate more than doubled to 15.1% in April, up from 5.8% in March, the department said. The department had initially said Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was 6% in March, but that preliminary figure was adjusted downward to 5.8%.

The national rate was 14.7% in April.

Workers trim beef at the Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Dakota City, Neb. in 2012. (Keith Myers/Kansas City Star/TNS)

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Pennsylvania’s highest unemployment rate was 12.7% in 1983, according to online federal data that keeps track back to 1976. It is a dramatic change from last year when Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate hit a nearly two-decade low of 4.1%.

A separate survey of employers showed seasonally adjusted non-farm payrolls fell by more than 1 million in April to just above 5 million. That’s the lowest recorded payroll figure for Pennsylvania in online federal data that keeps track back to the start of 1990.

Meanwhile, 1.9 million Pennsylvanians have sought unemployment benefits since mid-March, almost one-third of the labor force in April.