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Pennsylvania jobless rate fell in March, as payrolls grew

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate fell slightly in March, as payrolls expanded and every economic sector except for construction recorded growth, according to state figures released Friday.

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was 7.3%, down a tenth of a percentage point from February’s adjusted rate, the state Department of Labor and Industry said.

That was more than a whole point above the national rate of 6% in March.

In a survey of households, the labor force remained virtually the same in March, at almost 6.34 million. The number of employed rose 8,000, while the number of unemployed fell by 7,000. The state hit a record high labor force of almost 6.6 million just before the pandemic.

In a separate survey of employers, payrolls in Pennsylvania expanded in February by 24,000, closer to 5.7 million.

Pennsylvania has regained about 60% of the 1.1 million jobs lost in the pandemic. It hit a record high for payrolls of 6.1 million in February 2020, according to state figures.

The education and health services sector and the leisure and hospitality sector led the gainers.

The leisure and hospitality sector — which includes restaurants, bars and hotels — remains down about 25% from pre-pandemic levels, or about 140,000 jobs, after shedding an estimated 60% of its jobs when the pandemic hit last spring.

The construction sector fell by 900 jobs.

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