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June jobs report could indicate stable midstate economy

By , - Last modified: July 6, 2012 at 12:22 PM

When the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its national jobs report today, the data illustrated a small national employment uptick and an unchanged unemployment rate, but that improvement could still benefit Pennsylvania overall, one midstate group said.

Nationally, about 80,000 nonfarm jobs were added in June, according to the latest BLS numbers. However, the unemployment rate remained unchanged from May at 8.2 percent.

Although the change might seem miniscule on a national scale, it could help illustrate continued recovery for Pennsylvania and a stable three months to come, said Michael Smeltzer, executive director of the York-based Manufacturers’ Association of South Central Pennsylvania.

“Overall, I’d say we’re pretty happy with where things are,” he said.

Pennsylvania’s economy continues to improve, and manufacturing is rebounding strong, he said. That doesn’t look to change in the immediate future, as July and August could be stable months for the midstate economy, he said.

“This region’s economy is so much more balanced that it often fights off these slumps,” he said.

That could be more reassuring on a local perspective considering a recent national report from the Institute for Supply Management. The Arizona-based organization’s manufacturing index showed that sector had contracted slightly in June, but that the overall economy continued to grow at a measured pace.

ISM warned that one month’s data is not enough to extrapolate a future long-term slide back into recession, especially considering the manufacturing sector has been growing steadily along with the economy for more than two years.

The one thing that keeps the economy moving slow is that there seems to be a continued lack of confidence on the consumer side, and that often translates to hesitation by business executives in making major decisions, such as large-scale hiring, Smeltzer said.

Long-term trends also illustrate an improving national and state economy. Nationally, there were 3 million more people employed in June compared with a year ago, according to BLS. The unemployment rate also dropped over the past year from 9.1 percent to 8.2 percent.

In Pennsylvania, May employment grew by 103,000, or 1.8 percent, from a year ago, and unemployment rolls dropped by 35,000 or 6.9 percent, according to the state Department of Labor and Industry. The state’s unemployment rate also dropped from 8 percent to 7.4 percent in May.

Pennsylvania is scheduled to release its June employment data on July 19.


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