Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Fed Says Pittsburgh Region's Economy Falling Behind

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Fed Says Pittsburgh Region's Economy Falling Behind

Article excerpt

Here's some economic news you won't get from the puffy-chested crowd at the yokel chamber of commerce: The Pittsburgh region lags behind the state and the nation when it comes to several important economic indicators.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland reports that the region has a higher unemployment rate; is not keeping up when it comes to job and economic growth and housing permits; and is taking on consumer debt at a faster pace.

"The area's unemployment rate has ... risen sharply over the course of 2016, possibly in part because of reduced activity in the energy sector," the bank said in a report issued last week.

Pittsburgh's unemployment rate jumped from 4.8 percent in December to 5.7 percent in July, the period the bank reviewed. It rose to 5.9 percent in August.

The numbers for both months were higher than the statewide unemployment rate - 5.6 percent in July, according to the bank - and the national unemployment rate of 4.9 percent.

A sharp drop in jobs in Washington County, which has the most active oil and gas wells of any county in Pennsylvania, could be behind the increase, according to the bank.

The bank said Pittsburgh region employment grew only 0.2 percent during the 12-month period ended in March versus statewide growth of 1.1 percent and nationwide growth of 1.9 percent.

"Major industries in Pittsburgh generally saw weaker employment gains than those same industries did nationally," the bank said.

Jobs in four sectors that saw growth nationally through March - manufacturing; government; information; and trade, transportation and utilities - declined in the Pittsburgh region over the same period.

The bank noted a few bright spots.

Prices for homes in the region increased just under 5 percent for the 12-month period that ended in July, topping the 2.9 percent statewide rate and approaching the nationwide rate of 5.1 percent. And the region's 6.5 percent increase in inflation-adjusted per capita income tops the 6 percent growth statewide and nationally, the bank reported.

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