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Pennsylvania’s labor force shrank, payrolls flat in August

September 17, 2021 GMT

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate dropped to another post-pandemic low, according to state figures released Friday, but the labor force shrank in August and payrolls remained virtually flat as employers, such as restaurants and school bus companies, struggle to find enough employees.

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate dropped one-tenth of a percentage point to 6.4% from July’s adjusted rate, the state Department of Labor and Industry said.

The national rate was 5.2% in August, as Pennsylvania straggles at tied for 41st among states.

The figures come out after the federal government ended supplemental payments of $300 a week to people who lost jobs or self-employment income during the pandemic, as well as expanded unemployment benefits to self-employed people who wouldn’t normally receive them.

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In a survey of households, the labor force shrank by 7,000 in August, to below 6.3 million, as the number of employed and unemployed both slid. The state hit a record-high labor force of almost 6.6 million just before the pandemic hit.

In a separate survey of employers, payrolls in Pennsylvania grew in August by 5,100, to above 5.74 million.

Pennsylvania has regained about 65% of the 1.1 million jobs lost in the pandemic. It hit a record high for payrolls of 6.1 million just before the pandemic hit, according to state figures.

The hard-hit leisure and hospitality sector lost nearly 9,000 jobs.

Unemployment rates were lower in August in 15 states and stable in 35 states in August, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.