Pa. unemployment rate declines, nonfarm jobs reach record high

Lower unemployment rates and new highs in nonfarm jobs marked the month of March in Pennsylvania. 

The state’s unemployment rate last month dropped two-tenths of a percentage point to 4.2%, and the total nonfarm jobs hit a record level, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry’s situation report. 

March marked the third consecutive month of record-high total nonfarm jobs in Pennsylvania. The state’s unemployment rate was also two-tenths of a point below its level in March 2022. 

The national unemployment rate also declined, dropping one-tenth of a percentage to 3.5%. The national rate is also down 0.1 percentage points over the year. 

Pennsylvania’s civilian labor force, which is the estimated number of residents working or looking for work, increased 5,000 over the month. Resident employment rose by 12,000 over the month and unemployment decreased 7,000. 

The state’s nonfarm jobs increased by 12,500 over the month to a record level 6,108,900 in March. The previous mark of 6,096,400 was set last month. Jobs increased from February in seven of the 11 supersectors with the largest gain (4,500) in leisure and hospitality. Professional and business services also hit a record high. 

Total nonfarm jobs increased by 159,000 over the year with gains in all 11 supersectors. Education and health services were up 52,000 and had the largest volume over-the-year gain among supersectors. Three other supersectors each added more than 16,000 jobs.

Springwood Hospitality changes ownership

York-based Springwood Hospitality, a hotel development and management company, recently announced new ownership and other organizational changes.

Earlier this year President Justin Shelton assumed ownership from founder and partner David Hogg, who will remain involved as Springwood’s development specialist. To accelerate growth, Hogg is also mentoring an expanded development team.

Shelton partnered with Hogg and joined Springwood Hospitality as president in 2009. He recently purchased Hogg’s remaining 50% interest and became CEO. It was always the goal for Shelton to eventually take the reins, and for Hogg to remain involved.

Shelton had an extensive history in hospitality before coming to Springwood, landing his first general manager position before his 21st birthday.

He served on the prestigious Hilton Owner’s Advisory Council and through his distinguished service with the Tru Brand and Springwood’s award-winning development and operation of several Home2 Suites hotels, Hilton honored him with his position on the Advisory Council of Home2 Suites. Shelton is a graduate of the University of Alabama with a B.S. in hotel and restaurant management and a marketing minor.

“I am thrilled to have Justin at the helm,” Hogg said in a release. “He has driven most company decisions for years, with industry-recognized excellence that has substantially benefitted our team and our investors. I believe his leadership will deliver the best possible future for Springwood Hospitality.”

Other organizational shifts include the promotion of Director of Operations Molly Jensen to company vice president.

“It is a true pleasure to officially announce Molly’s well-deserved promotion. She has been such an asset to Springwood from day one,” Shelton said.

Springwood and its affiliates have profitably developed 34 projects worth more than $360 million in central Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York and Maryland. They have helped high-net-worth entities and individuals invest $140 million of private capital in these projects.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

New training program available for hospitality jobs

The York County Industrial Development Authority, staffed by the York County Economic Alliance, is launching the John A. Lambert Hospitality Training Program.

The initiative, in partnership with Crispus Attucks, York College of Pennsylvania and GF Hotels & Resorts, honors John A. Lambert, one of the Yorktowne Hotel’s most recognized and tenured employees.

Offered at no cost, the training program will prepare individuals for a career in the hospitality industry. Participants who attend and complete the classes and earn a passing grade on the corresponding exam will receive a certificate from the nationally recognized American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute, a release said.

The evening and weekend classes – to be held Sept. 12 through Sept. 28 – will be taught by industry professionals and held in the Crispus Attucks computer lab at 605 S. Duke St., York. Classes in Spanish are available upon request.

Training topics include Guest Service Gold: Golden Opportunities; Front Desk Representative; Guest Room Attendant; Restaurant Server; Maintenance Employee; and Kitchen Cook.

The John A. Lehman Hospitality Training Program is financially supported by the Women’s Giving Circle and the Rotary Club of York.

Anyone interested in working for the Yorktowne Hotel as it prepares to reopen is also encouraged to attend the York Hiring Fair from noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 15 at PeoplesBank Park and Yorktowne Hiring Days from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 19-21 at the York County Economic Alliance, 144 Roosevelt Ave., York.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Child care shortage hurts hospitality industry, survey says

Lack of access to child care threatens parents’ ability to work in the hospitality industry, according to survey data released Wednesday by the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association and Start Strong PA.

The survey questionnaire was distributed to hospitality industry employers and employees between March and May.

Among the data highlights:

· Nearly three-quarters of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that there is a shortage of affordable child care options for their employees.

· Over 80% of respondents said inadequate child care options impacts their ability to recruit qualified employees.

· Nearly 95% of employees said that child care-related concerns are contributing to the national workforce shortage.

“The hospitality industry is still struggling to fully rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic,” John Longstreet, Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association president and CEO, said in a release. “Staffing continues to be the No. 1 concern of operators across all sectors of our industry. Affordable, accessible child care would mean more team members could enter, stay and grow in our industry, boosting the economy along the way.”

Hospitality employees with children reported that child-care access was a barrier to work even before to the pandemic, citing cost and irregular hours. Now that barrier has only increased.

Nearly all employers and employees surveyed said that expanding access to affordable child care should be a high priority for their communities.

“There are currently more than 7,000 vacant child care positions across Pennsylvania … and more than 32,400 Pennsylvanian children on waitlists,” added Steve Doster, a principal partner in Start Strong PA, which supports affordable access to high-quality child care for Pennsylvania families.

“The economy depends on working families and working families depend on child care. Pennsylvania lawmakers are in a position to stabilize and strengthen the child care sector by investing in its employees.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance write