Harrisburg, PA: Today, the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Association released its second “Pennsylvania’s Workforce Trends, which found that Pennsylvania has more job openings than workers to fill them. The report explored the working population as well as the trends in employment. It also sought to dispel some myths around employment and workforce, namely that a “Great Resignation” drives job openings. Instead, the aging of Pennsylvania’s population is creating a mismatch between job openings and workers.
“Pennsylvania’s Workforce Trends” is part of a series on the latest workforce development and labor market information impacting Pennsylvania that distills critical information for policymakers and stakeholders to develop responsive workforce development policy.
“Today’s tight labor market gives Pennsylvania workers more choices and chances to get a higher paid and higher quality job,” said Carrie Amann, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Association. “A tight labor market also creates opportunities for Pennsylvania’s workforce system. With employers hungry for workers, the workforce system is engaging with industry to review their workforce development and hiring models while supporting jobseekers and workers to develop their skills and strengthen the pathways to good jobs.”
Pennsylvania is observing record-low unemployment rates.
The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania in December 2023 was 3.5%, its second lowest since at least 1976 (the first year when the current monthly state unemployment rate data set started), and its lowest rate being November 2023).
Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is below the national average.
In the last four months, the state’s unemployment rate has dipped below the national unemployment rate thanks to swift job growth compared to the state over the past three years as discussed in the first “workforce trends” report.
Unemployment is low in most Local Workforce Development Areas.
The unemployment rate is also low in most of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties and 22 Local Workforce Development Areas (LWDAs). Every LWDA has had a lower unemployment rate in the past 12 months (ending November 2023) than in the 12 months ending right before the pandemic (in February 2020).
Pennsylvania’s rate of job openings remains higher than pre-pandemic levels.
There are now more job openings than unemployed workers in Pennsylvania – one for every 0.6 unemployed workers. Pennsylvania is aging. Workers 55 or older have been the only part of the state population to grow in the last decade and increase their workforce share. Prime-aged workers (aged 25 to 54) have decreased by nearly five percentage points as a share of the workforce during the last decade.
Misconceptions about Pennsylvania’s “tight” labor market.
The data indicate that individual workers have a lot of opportunities in the current market and some ability to pick and choose among jobs and employers. The data suggests that this is driven less by a permanent withdrawal of workers from the job market and more by aging our workforce, which gradually increases the rate of retirement and the number of new workers that must be hired each year to replace retiring workers. In the last 11 years, the only age group in Pennsylvania that has grown is the oldest one close to retirement – those aged 55 and over increased by nearly a fifth. The number of Pennsylvanians of prime working age (25 years to 54) declined by 3% from 2010 to 2021. And the 16 to 24 years old group plummeted by 12.1%.
The Pennsylvania Workforce Development Association (PWDA) serves as the voice of the Pennsylvania workforce development system and a clearinghouse for workforce development information statewide. Known for Pennsylvania’s premier annual workforce development gathering every spring, we provide development and capacity building opportunities to workforce development professionals, local workforce development boards (WDBs), and other stakeholders while continuing proactive advocacy efforts on behalf of Pennsylvania’s workforce development system. Learn more by visiting https://www.pawork.org