Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

34,000 found jobs in Pa. in April

In the national race toward economic recovery, Pennsylvania has gained some bragging rights - at least for the month of April.

In the national race toward economic recovery, Pennsylvania has gained some bragging rights - at least for the month of April.

The state added 34,000 jobs last month, second only to Ohio, which recorded a net April gain of 37,300 jobs, according to a report released Friday by the U.S. Department of Labor.

New Jersey's total nonfarm wage and salary employment increased 10,500 jobs last month.

For Pennsylvania, it was the biggest monthly jobs gain since February 1996. New Jersey's wait was not nearly as long - just since January 2008.

As it turns out, the month known for rain showers was a jobs generator across most of the nation. Employment grew in 38 states and the District of Columbia, for a net increase of 290,000 jobs.

Twelve states reported decreases, with the largest in Maine (down 6,500), Rhode Island (4,400), Colorado (4,200), and New Hampshire (4,100).

Though the job-growth numbers were not as dramatic as some people would like to see - especially those without work - in this limping-along economy, any employment boost stirs enthusiasm.

That could explain why Gov. Rendell, at a news conference Friday morning at City Hall, chose to first tout the April jobs numbers before he got to the real reason he was in town: to announce the release of $200 million in state funds for a new Philadelphia Family Court building.

"The very good news is this job gain was reflected across every sector of our economy," Rendell said.

He singled out the gains in manufacturing and construction, calling them the state's "hardest-hit" sectors during the recession. In April, 4,400 manufacturing and 2,200 construction jobs were added, Rendell said, evidence "that the stimulus is working."

"There's hope again on the horizon," he said, though immediately cautioned that "the recession is not over; the recovery is not complete."

To emphasize the point, he noted the state unemployment rate for April: 9 percent, which, though lower than the national rate of 9.9 percent, "remains too high," Rendell said. New Jersey's jobless rate is 9.8 percent.

Nevertheless, Pennsylvania does have reason to crow, assuming that context is not forgotten, said George Tsetsekos, dean of Drexel's LeBow College of Business.

"As a piece of information for one month, it looks very positive," Tsetsekos said.

He credited much of the growth to the state's heavy concentration of higher-education and health-care industries, two largely stable employment sectors.

Not to be undervalued is Pennsylvania's export industry, Tsetsekos said: Largely due to efforts by the Rendell administration to develop overseas markets for Pennsylvania companies, the state's exports are up 35 percent over the last year.

At the Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center, a nonprofit economic-development agency, Mark Basla, vice president of marketing and business development, on Friday reported "a modest but positive trend of local companies' hiring both mid-management level and production-related positions."

That growth is the result of increased orders for a range of goods being sold both domestically and internationally, Basla said, including medical devices, consumer-goods technology, and aerospace-, infrastructure- and energy-related products.

At Schramm Inc. in West Chester, international business and the commodities market are behind the filling of 10 mostly technical or production jobs this year and the posting of five others, said CEO Edward Breiner.

The 110-year-old company builds mobile top-head rotary drills, typically used to extract natural resources such as gold, copper, iron ore, oil, and gas from the ground.

"In the fourth quarter of 2008, the bottom fell out" of Schramm's business, and one-third of its workforce was laid off, Breiner said, declining to say how many that was.

The confidence to begin rebuilding the workforce started in September, he said, when commodity-related markets showed signs of life.

"I don't for a minute question that we have a recovery," Breiner said. "I do question: Can another shoe drop?"