First the national report. Jobs nationally were reported to be up by 180,000. This is about 20,000 higher than the most optimistic forecasts. On top of this the past two months were revised higher by 32,000 jobs. According to MarketWatch reporter Greg Robb this is bewildering economists who feared, with the slowing economy, job creation would become anemic. The unemployment rate nationally dropped to 4.4% from 4.5%, matching the rate from last October.
For a fresh look at our local job market, we turn to a semi-annual survey of local small and mid-sized companies conducted by PNC Financial Services Group, as reported by the Post Gazette’s Elwin Green. This survey shows that 23% of local companies plan to add to their staff over the next six months, up from 15% from the last survey done in October. While there is concern over the reported reduction in the number of local jobseekers in February, often a sign of discouraged jobseekers pulling out of the job market, evidence continues to mount that we are in the early stages of one of the best job expansions in 6 years here in the Pittsburgh region. Most of the news we have read about over the past year speaks about how stagnant our area has been with a lack of job growth coupled with an aging population. The aging population (deaths have outnumbered births in our region by ten’s of thousand over the past 6 years) will continue for quite some time, but the Pittsburgh region could soon find itself in a position unthought-of of just a few years ago – a SHORTAGE of hourly workers.