Unemployment rates across the region experienced slight decreases or increases from November to December, according to data released Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry. However, even with slight upward ticks in the rates, levels continue a downward trend year over year.
Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties are included in the Philadelphia Metropolitan Statistical Area, or MSA — which includes the city and surrounding counties in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, MSA was unchanged from November at 3.8% in December, Labor & Industry said Tuesday.
Broken down to the county level, Chester County’s rate was 2.9% in December, up two-tenths of a percentage point from November, and down four-tenths of a percentage point from December 2021, when the rate was 3.3%.
Montgomery County’s rate for December was 3.1%, up one-tenth of a percentage point from November, and down seven-tenths of a percentage point from December 2021, when the rate was 3.8%.
Delaware County’s rate was 3.8% in December, unchanged from November, and down one percentage point from December 2021.
Philadelphia County’s December unemployment rate was 5.2%, down one-tenth of a percentage point from November and down 1.7 percentage points from December 2021, when the rate was 6.9%.
Seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs in the Greater Philadelphia region increased 500 over the month to 3,006,500 in December. Over the year, jobs increased by 2.9%, up 84,900 in the MSA.
Berks, which is included in the Reading MSA, saw a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December of 4%, a decrease of one-tenth of a percentage point from November. That is the lowest rate for the MSA since June 2000, when the unemployment rate was also 4%. Berks’ rate is down 1.8 percentage points from December 2021, when the unemployment rate was 5.8%.
Seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs in the Reading MSA rose 0.4% over the month, or up 700 to 175,100 in November.
Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was down one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.9% in December, setting a new record low. The U.S. unemployment rate was also down one-tenth of a point over the month, falling to 3.5 percent. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was 1.6 percentage points below its December 2021 level, while the national rate was down 1.2 percentage points over the year. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry released state figures for December on Jan. 20.
From April 2020 to December 2022, Pennsylvania recovered about 95% of jobs lost in the first two months of the pandemic, according to Labor & Industry data. Four supersectors — trade, transportation & utilities; information; professional & business services; and manufacturing — were above their pre-pandemic job levels in December 2022.
Acting Labor Secretary Nancy Walker said Pennsylvania’s 3.9% rate is encouraging.
“Pennsylvanians are reentering the workforce, launching new careers and pursuing jobs that sustain their families. Opportunity abounds today for Pennsylvania workers,” she said in a statement. Walker added that a tight labor market presents challenges, “particularly for employers who need workers with specialized skillsets.”
Around the state
Among the state’s 67 counties, Chester County had the second lowest December unemployment rate at 2.9%, tied with Montour County. Lancaster County was ranked fourth lowest with 3.0%, tied with Cumberland County. Montgomery County was ranked sixth lowest with 3.1%, tied with Centre and Perry counties, while Delaware County was tied with Allegheny, Juniata and Northampton for 20th lowest with 3.8%. Berks was tied with Westmoreland County for 28th lowest with 4%.
Forest and Cameron counties had the highest rate at 5.7%.
The Gettysburg MSA was, at 2.8%, the lowest among the state’s 18 metro areas. The Lehigh Valley was at 3.8% and Lancaster was at 3.0%. East Stroudsburg had the highest rate at 5.4%.
Pennsylvania’s unemployment data for January will be released by the Department of Labor & Industry on March 10, while specific county and municipality data will be released on March 16.