York County unemployment rate continues to fall, even amid inflation fears

Anthony Maenza
York Dispatch

Unemployment rates continue to fall across Pennsylvania — even at a time of unprecedented inflation and turmoil in the stock market, according to state Department of Labor and Industry data released Friday.

Pennsylvania reported a 4.5% unemployment rate for the month of June, down 0.1% from the previous month. That's still higher than the U.S. unemployment rate, which stands at 3.6%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Detailed local figures for June are not yet available, but unemployment in the York-Hanover area stood at 3.4% in May, according to the BLS. That compares to 5.7% in May 2021. Over the same time period, Gettysburg's unemployment rate fell from 4.4% to 2.8% and Harrisburg-Carlisle's from 5.6% to 3.3%.

Wolf administration officials said the improving unemployment rate reflects the resiliency of the state and its residents.

“Some industries are even currently above their pre-pandemic level job totals, further contributing to Pennsylvania’s ongoing efforts to put the worst of the pandemic behind us," said Labor and Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier, in a written statement.

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In real numbers, the state gained 7,000 jobs among its civilian labor force — the estimated number of residents working or looking for work. The number of the employed rose by 17,000 in June to 6.1 million. Resident unemployment declined by 10,000 to 288,000.  

Nationwide, despite the stable unemployment rate, the number of new jobless claims increased last month. The Labor Department reported that Americans collecting jobless benefits for the week ending July 9 rose by 51,000 from the previous week, to 1.4 million.

Nonetheless, that figure has been at near 50-year lows.

And it came as employers nationwide added 372,000 jobs in June, a surprisingly robust gain and similar to the pace of the previous two months.

In Pennsylvania, the leisure and hospitality industry — hit hard by the pandemic — has enjoyed the strongest recovery. According to state data, hospitality businesses added 64,000 jobs over the last 12 months.

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All of those figures paint a divergent picture of the post-pandemic economy: Inflation is hammering household budgets, forcing consumers to pull back on spending, and growth is weakening, heightening fears the economy could fall into recession.

In an effort to combat the worst inflation in more than four decades, the Federal Reserve raised rates by a half-point in May and another rare three-quarter point increase last month. Most economists expect the Fed to jack up its borrowing rate another half to three-quarters of a point when it meets later this month.

Though the labor market is still strong, there have been some high-profile layoffs announced recently by Tesla, Netflix, Carvana, Redfin and Coinbase.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

— Reach Anthony Maenza at amaenza@yorkdispatch.com or @atmaenza on Twitter. 

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