HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate fell again in October as payrolls continued to recover from the economic hit of last spring’s pandemic-driven shutdowns, according to state figures released Friday.
Still, the rate fell only because of a big drop in the state’s civilian labor force, and the state has yet to recover many of the jobs lost to the economic impact of the coronavirus.
Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was 7.3% in October, down 1 percentage point from September’s adjusted rate of 8.3%, the state Department of Labor and Industry said.
That is below the state’s pandemic-driven unemployment high of 16.1% in April, the highest rate in more than four decades of record-keeping.
The national rate was 6.9% in October, and unemployment rates dropped in October in 37 states, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pennsylvania was hit harder by the pandemic than most states in the spring, and its unemployment rate had been one of the highest in the nation since.
In a survey of households, the labor force shrank by an estimated 75,000 in October to less than 6.4 million. The state hit a record high of almost 6.6 million who were working or looking for work in February. The number of unemployed fell by 71,000, while the number of employed fell by 4,000.
Payrolls in Pennsylvania grew in October, gaining back almost 19,000 of the more than 1.1 million jobs lost since mid-March. Pennsylvania has now regained slightly more than half of those jobs lost, according to state figures.
At about 5.6 million jobs, nonfarm payrolls are still down about 500,000 from before the pandemic, or about 1 in 12 jobs total. That is still below where payrolls were in 2010.
At the height of coronavirus-shutdown job losses, seasonally adjusted nonfarm payrolls fell to the lowest level in at least three decades of federal data that goes back to the start of 1990 under the same methodology.
Hardest hit has been the leisure and hospitality sector, which shed about 60% of its payroll as restaurants and bars were forced to shut down in-house service and shift food service to takeout or delivery.
But in October, the leisure and hospitality sector, which includes restaurants, was among the biggest gainers. It added 6,000 jobs in October, but remains more than 140,000 jobs, or about 25%, behind where payrolls were in February.
Payroll in most other sectors also grew in October.