The Phoenix Reporter and Item (http://www.phoenixvillenews.com)

Philadelphia region’s suburban counties fare better than state in unemployment

Chester, Montgomery, Delaware and Bucks counties have among lowest jobless rates in Pennsylvania

By Brian McCullough, bmccullough@21st-centurymedia.com, @wcdailylocal on Twitter

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The region continued to outperform the state in unemployment in July, according to the latest report from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry.

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate in July was unchanged at 5 percent. It was the second straight month with no change.

The commonwealth’s rate remained above that of the United States, which was down one-tenth of a percentage point from June to 4.3 percent. Over the year, the Pennsylvania rate declined by one-half of a percentage point.

Of the 67 counties in the state, Chester County had the lowest unemployment rate in July at 3.4 percent, while Fayette County had the highest rate at 6.5 percent. Montgomery County had the fifth-lowest rate at 3.7 percent. Bucks County tied Union County for the eighth-lowest rate at 4.0 percent. Delaware County tied Butler and Dauphin counties for the 13th lowest rate at 4.3 percent.

Philadelphia County tied Armstrong County at 5.9 percent, the 61st lowest rate in the state.

All job numbers in the report are seasonally adjusted.

All in all, the report on July’s unemployment situation points to an economy that is recovering from the recession, said Jeff Newman, industry and business analyst.

“I think the state has recovered well from the recession; the nation has done better,” said Newman. “I can’t point to something specific for that. Pennsylvania’s population is older than a lot of states but I don’t know if that has anything to do with it or not.”

Generally, the number of jobs in health care and social assistance has grown in the state in recent years, while manufacturing has been declining, Newman observed.

Pat Bokovitz, director of the Chester County Workforce Development Board, noted that unemployment numbers can be misleading because they’re affected when people become discouraged and are no longer counted as looking for work.

That was not the case in Chester County, though. In July 2016, the county’s labor force was at 281,200 and the unemployment rate was 3.9 percent; this July, the labor force was 283,100 and the jobless rate was 3.4 percent.

“That shows a very positive hiring trend,” Bokovitz said. “These are the benefits of being in a diverse economy.”

– To contact Business Writer Brian McCullough, call 610-235-2655 or send an email to bmccullough@21st-centurymedia.com.