After a flat five years, job growth in the Pittsburgh region ended on an upswing in 2017.
The seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area gained 19,300 jobs between December 2016 and December 2017—a 1.6 percent increase over the year, according to the preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The December data cap off a year that suggests the region broke out of a long slump in 2017 by adding jobs. The region’s percent increase year-over-year falls just slightly below the average of 1.7 percent for Pittsburgh TODAY’s benchmark regions.
“In 2017, the service industries were responsible for the gains,” said Kurt Rankin, vice president and economist for PNC Financial Services Group. “To a greater extent in terms of job creation, consumers spending money locally helped create jobs and that’s evidenced by the leisure and hospitality sector, one of the strongest growing in the Pittsburgh market in 2017.”
Jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector continued to grow in December—up 4.9 percent over the past year. Professional and business services, financial activities, wholesale, education and health and other services also posted gains. But the big winner in December was the mining, logging and construction industry with a 9.2 percent gain in the past year—second among benchmark cities behind Minneapolis.
As was the case for most of 2017, heavy industry, such as manufacturing and transportation and utilities, continued to lose jobs. The industries were down .5 and 2.4 percent, respectively, over the year.
Job growth in 2017 would be a welcome sign for a region that has struggled to create jobs in recent years and has had to deal with a contracting labor force.
“A little caution there—we’d seen some preliminary job growth in those prior years only to see it revised away later,” said Rankin. “But for now, the numbers do suggest that there were actually job gains in 2017, which would be a first in six years.”