Erie Vital Signs

Employment, Unemployment & Labor Force: Change in Employment, Unemployment & Labor Force

Recent Performance

This trend is mixed or inconclusive.

Employment is gradually increasing in Erie. Between 2013 and 2014, the number of Erie residents employed rose slightly by 0.23 percent to 126,112. However, this was lower than the 2013-2014 employment growth rate in Pennsylvania (0.75 percent), the thirteen Erie Vital Signs peer areas (1.7 percent), and the U.S. as a whole (1.7 percent). While Erie’s employment has grown significantly since 2010, when it stood at about 123,667, it is still below the pre-recession level of 133,934 reached in 2008. But Erie’s employment numbers are clearly headed in the right direction.

The number of unemployed in Erie is decreasing. About 1,941 fewer Erie County residents were unemployed in 2014 compared to 2013 – a 19.1 percent decline in the jobless population. This compares favorably to the 2013-2014 decline in the number of unemployed in the U.S. as a whole (16.1 percent) and among the thirteen Erie Vital Signs peer areas (average of 18.0 percent), although it is lower than that in the state of Pennsylvania (22.6 percent). This decline brought down the total number of jobless residents in the county in 2014 to 8,231. As a result of the Great Recession, the number of unemployed in Erie in 2010 had been as high as 12,687.

The good news regarding the decrease in the number of unemployed in Erie is partially offset by the fact that Erie County’s labor force declined by 1.2 percent, losing 1,647 people between 2013 and 2014. This rate was below that for the thirteen Erie Vital Signs peer areas, which experienced growth of 0.31 percent, on average, in their labor force. The labor force is the number of civilians aged 16 or older who are available to work and includes those who have jobs or are unemployed but actively seeking work. It is not possible to tell from the statistics whether these people are leaving the labor force because they no longer need to work or because they have given up on looking for a job.

(See graphs in previous section.)

The Basics

The change in employment, unemployment, and labor force refers to the annual (year-on-year) change in the total number of individuals employed, unemployed, and in the labor force, respectively. Employed persons are those who did any work at all for pay or profit. Unemployed individuals are those who are not working but actively looking for a job. (Individuals who are on layoff but expecting recall need not be looking for work to be counted as unemployed.) The labor force includes individuals who are employed as well as those who are unemployed.

Why is this important?

It is important to monitor changes in the level of employment and the size of the labor force because labor is one of the most important resources used by the economy to produce goods and services and thereby generate income and purchasing power. It is also important to monitor changes in the level of unemployment, which can produce economic losses. Unemployed workers suffer income loss, which results in lower consumption and possible negative health and other social consequences. Unemployment also leads to economic losses for the economy as a whole since more goods and services could have been produced by those unemployed.

The Details

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides annual data on the levels of employment and unemployment and the size of the civilian labor force for the national economy. The BLS also works cooperatively with state government agencies such as the Center for Workforce Information & Analysis of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry to provide state and local data through the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) and Current Employment Statistics (CES) programs.

Civilian labor force data include estimates of the number of individuals in the labor force (individuals aged 16 and above who are working or looking for work), the number employed, the number unemployed, and the unemployment rate. The statistics come from several sources, including the Current Population Survey (CPS), a sample survey of households that is conducted for the BLS by the U.S. Census Bureau; the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey; and state unemployment insurance claims data.

Labor Force Definitions:

The labor force: includes both the employed and unemployed (who are actively seeking work).

Employed persons: those who did any work at all for pay or profit in the survey reference week (the week including the 12th of the month) or worked 15 hours or more without pay in a family business or farm, plus those not working who have a job from which they were temporarily absent, whether or not paid, for such reasons as labor-management dispute, illness, or vacation.

Unemployed persons: those who did not work at all in the reference week, have actively looked for a job sometime in the 4-week period ending with the survey reference week, and are currently available for work. Note: persons on layoff expecting recall need not be looking for work to be counted as unemployed.

Change in employment, unemployment, and labor force: the annual (year-on-year) change in the total number of individuals employed, unemployed, and in the labor force, respectively.

The Nitty-Gritty Details

Subcategories

This EVS indicator has no subcategories. The BLS does provide (monthly) data at the national level for subcategories based on sex, age, education, race, and other selected characteristics.

Peer Areas

These variables include data on all 13 of the standard peer areas, along with U.S. and PA data.

Frequency

Annual

Source

Other Related Data

Latest Erie Data from the Economic Research Institute of Erie, at the Black School of Business at Penn State Behrend

Additional Studies and Research

Alan S. Blinder, “The Challenge of High Unemployment,” American Economic Review, May 1988, pp. 1-15.

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