2023 job gains down by 53,000 after new data comes up short

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(The Center Square) — Pennsylvania’s employment rate remains high as labor force participation falls.

That being said, fewer people worked last year than initially thought.

A new report from the Independent Fiscal Office noted that Pennsylvania had 53,000 fewer jobs in 2023 than previously estimated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The data, pulled from employers that pay into the state unemployment insurance system, excludes the self-employed. But the revised data show that previous estimates were almost 1% higher than how many workers were actually employed in the commonwealth.

“The largest revision occurred for the administrative and business support services industry,” the IFO noted. Almost 5% fewer workers, or 14,000 people, were in that category, mainly due to a smaller pool of temp workers.

Retail and wholesale trade workers were the second-largest driving force, with a drop of 11,400 workers, or 1.4%.

The only category that went up in the data were government workers, with 1,200 more than previously estimated.

“Although still robust, the revised quarterly data reveal a trend decline in year-over-year job gains for most of the year: 141,000 (Q1), 103,700 (Q2), 79,700 (Q3), and 84,200 (Q4),” the IFO noted. “The unexpected uptick in the fourth quarter is preliminary and could be revised down with the next benchmark that will occur in March 2025.

Though early job gains numbers for January are higher than pre-Covid levels, they’re considerably lower than for January 2023, the IFO noted.