Late-Morning Must Reads: Well We're Living Here in Allentown So Call Me Maybe

Since I attended the 82nd annual Gridiron show last night, I'm both in a good mood and have the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents Association's version of Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe (<--not them) in my head this morning. 

As a result, after reading a story in The Morning Call on employment trends in the Allentown region and taking a closer look at the employment data, it occurred to me that maybe we could have Carly Rae Jepsen remix and uplift Billy Joel's classic Allentown. Although unemployment remains high, the employment picture in the region is not all bad.

Although the unemployment rate is up, growth in the labor force is a positive sign, said Ryan Sweet, an economist with Moody's Analytics. The Valley's labor force has grown each month since December, reversing its losses in 2009 and 2010 when many people gave up their job searches entirely due to bleak prospects.

"The pick-up in the labor force is encouraging," Sweet said. "It's a symbol of improved confidence. People are seeing more help-wanted signs."

Here is a rundown in pictures of the employment situation in the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton metropolitan area.

Total nonfarm payrolls have been steadily increasing over the last three years (Figure 1).

Employment measured in both the establishment (CES) and household survey (LAUS) is moving in the right direction. Over the last 12 months, total nonfarm payrolls are up by 2% (6,900 jobs), and employment in the household survey is up 2.4% (9,100) jobs (Figure 2).

Unlike the Commonwealth as a whole, the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton metropolitan area continues to outpace U.S. job growth (Figure 3).

As Ryan Sweet notes above, the labor force in the region is increasing rapidly, hopefully this is a result of stronger job growth and increased employer recruitment drawing more people back into the labor force (Figure 4).

The unemployment rate in the region remains very high and is essentially unchanged over the last twelve months. However, this is occurring as both the labor force and employment are rising — both good signs (Figure 5).

Table 1 presents a breakdown by sector in not seasonally adjusted employment in the region between August 2009 and August 2012. 



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