Pa. Pre-COVID job board marked by industry-specific resilience, gains and losses


Pennsylvania’s job growth during this period, however, was lower than that of most of its neighboring states, surpassing only Ohio and West Virginia, said co-author Theodore Alter, professor. of agricultural, environmental and regional economics and co-director of the center.

“Causation was beyond the scope of this report, but we hope that the comparison with other states raises questions among policy makers seeking to improve employment opportunities,” Alter said. “Why is Pennsylvania at the bottom of the comparisons? How is economic policy different? How is the makeup of the industry different from these other states? “

Job growth has been uneven across the state, suggests the report. Between 2001 and 2008, most counties remained relatively stable, with gains or losses of less than 5%, while most of the eastern and southeastern counties experienced strong positive net growth in the use. During the post-Great Recession period, southeastern counties and some counties in the greater Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas saw a slight upturn in employment, but many western and northern counties experienced greater job losses between 2008 and 2019 than between 2001 and 2008.

Overall, between 2001 and 2019, counties in southeastern Pennsylvania experienced positive employment growth, while many counties in the northern and western parts of the state experienced declining employment. . Consistent with this trend, 24 counties, mostly in the Southeast, experienced job growth in both business cycles, and 21 counties, mostly in western and northern Pennsylvania, lost jobs. during the two periods studied.

Researchers looked at industry sectors as defined by the North American Industry Classification System, the standard system used by federal statistical agencies. The sector with by far the most robust employment growth in the state over the entire period under review – and over each of the two shorter economic cycles – was health care and social assistance, which added more than 317,000 jobs between 2001 and 2019. This includes positions with hospitals, nursing homes, child care providers, family services and other health care providers.

Other industrial sectors showing employment growth over the two decades were accommodation and food services, which gained about 95,300 jobs; Management of Companies and Enterprises, and Professional and Technical Services, which each added more than 80,000 positions; and transportation and warehousing, with a gain of 68,000 jobs.

The industries with the most job losses from 2001 to 2019 were manufacturing and retail, with workforce reductions of more than 248,000 and 63,000, respectively. The dramatic loss of manufacturing jobs follows a nationwide downward trend in manufacturing employment, attributed in part to automation and international competition, the report said.

The report illustrates the complexity of understanding Pennsylvania’s economy and labor market, the researchers said.

“There is an overall story, but it can be misleading,” Alter explained. “The state’s economy is diverse, both in terms of geography and industry. As the relative importance of industrial sectors changes, people are displaced and areas are disadvantaged. One of the challenges ahead is how policymakers deal with this structural adjustment in the economy. . “

Baker added that each county has a unique mix of jobs that are affected differently by economic forces, making it difficult for officials to make sweeping decisions for the state.

“The Pennsylvania workforce has been really affected in so many ways over the past two decades, and I think the most important thing to remember is the resilience of the state,” she said. “We hope this report provides a resource to better understand these changes, while helping to establish a baseline for future analyzes of workforce disruptions caused by COVID-19. “

The report’s co-authors also included Theodore Fuller, development economist, and Nolan Martino, undergraduate research associate, Center for Economic and Community Development, Penn State.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture supported this work.


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