Pennsylvania unemployment rate drops in May, as labor force shrinks and payrolls expand


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HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania — Pennsylvania's unemployment rate declined for the 10th straight month in May, as payrolls posted a modest increase and the state's labor force shrank, officials said Friday.

The jobless rate for May was 5.6 percent, the lowest since September 2008, according to the state Department of Labor and Industry. That's down from 5.7 percent in April and below the May national rate of 6.3 percent.

The labor force — the number of people working or looking for jobs — declined by 12,000 in May to 6.43 million. The ranks of employed Pennsylvanians declined by 6,000, the first drop after eight straight months of gains, and the number of unemployed shrank by 5,000.

A separate survey of employers showed total non-farm jobs grew by 24,700 in May, pushing payrolls to 5.79 million, or about 20,000 less than the level at the beginning of the 2007-09 recession.

Over the year, the jobs total increased by more than 62,000, or 1.1 percent, with the leisure and hospitality sector and the professional and business service sector posting the largest gains. Manufacturing, government and information service jobs shrank.

A report this month by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis said that Pennsylvania's gross domestic product rose in 2013, along with that of 48 other states. Pennsylvania's increased 0.7 percent, versus 1.8 percent for the nation. GDP rose in each of eight regions, although the mid-East region made up of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Washington, D.C., grew the slowest of the eight at 0.7 percent.

Only three states — Maryland, Alaska and Virginia — grew more slowly in 2013 than Pennsylvania, which ranked 47th overall. Among Pennsylvania's other neighbors, New York was 46th, New Jersey was 37th, Delaware was 31st, Ohio was 26th and West Virginia was third. Pennsylvania's growth has slowed every year since 2010.

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