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Payrolls grow, but Pennsylvania’s labor force shrinks again

December 20, 2021 GMT

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate fell for the ninth straight month and payrolls grew again in November, according to new state figures, but the labor force shrank, as did the workforce participation rate.

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate dropped three-tenths of a percentage point to 5.7% from October’s rate, according to state Department of Labor and Industry figures released Friday.

The national rate was 4.2% in November. Pennsylvania lags most other states, tied at 40th among 50.

In a survey of households, the labor force shrank for the sixth straight month, dropping by 10,000 to farther below 6.3 million, although the number of employed grew by 6,000.

The state hit a record-high labor force of almost 6.6 million just before the pandemic. It’s now at the lowest level since 2005.

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Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s labor force participation rate shrank to the lowest level since 1987 after reaching a seven-year high just before the pandemic.

In a separate survey of employers, payrolls in Pennsylvania grew in November by 13,500, closer to 5.8 million.

Pennsylvania has regained about 70% of the 1.1 million jobs lost in the pandemic. It reached a record high for payrolls of 6.1 million just before the pandemic, according to state figures.

Unemployment rates were lower in 40 states in November, higher in none and the same in 10 states, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.