Southwestern Pennsylvania added 17,200 jobs between September 2016 and September 2017, according to data from the Bureau of Labor statistics released Friday.
While the Pittsburgh region’s 1.5 percent increase over the 12-month period is a positive sign, it falls below the average job growth in PittsburghTODAY’s benchmark regions. All regions had positive job growth for September, but Nashville and Austin led the way with 3.1 and 2.3 percent gains over the year, respectively. And at the bottom, growth is slow, but stable for Milwaukee with a .1 percent gain. The numbers reflect the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) of those cities.
In Pittsburgh, growth was driven primarily by two industries: transportation and utilities and construction. Transportation and utilities was up 9.3 percent and mining, logging and construction grew 2.1 percent over the year.
Growth in construction is a welcome trend after being down in 2016.
“The growth in construction have been up since April, so it wasn’t a one-time bump that pushed these numbers up,” said Kurt Rankin, economist at PNC. “There’s been growth the entire construction season that’s sustaining that trend.”
Positive overall job growth is a boon for some industries. Those with jobs continue to spend their money, contributing to growth in the leisure and hospitality industry which was up 4.2 percent.
Things are less sunny for manufacturing jobs, which was down 2.4 percent over the year. Only Seattle had more job losses in manufacturing than Pittsburgh.
The job growth numbers are preliminary and the BLS will revise them next March. But, for now, Rankin is cautiously optimistic. “If you take the numbers at face value, it looks like Pittsburgh will post its first significant gain in total employment since 2012,” he said. “Right now, it looks like we’ll be adding about 15,000 or so jobs.”