The Electric City’s high unemployment rate may be the new normal, according to a recent analysis of labor statistics. While the rest of the state was hit by the economic downturn, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazelton region lost more jobs than others.
“The rest of the state took a hit in those sectors,” Dr. Price said. “Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre got clobbered.” The recession and housing crisis put households on austerity plans, unable to replace their appliances, cars and others durable goods. The banking and financial crisis prevented consumers from tapping into home equity to bolster consumption. With a greater proportion of its jobs in manufacturing, Northeast Pennsylvania took a greater hit from the declines – 20 percent over four years locally compared to 12.6 percent for the state.
While the local metro area, which includes Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wyoming counties, didn’t see the construction boom or housing bubble of other parts of the country, many residents worked in construction, building in the red hot Pocono counties of Pike, Wayne and Monroe. When those markets crashed, that idled Northeast Pennsylvania tradespeople, who show up on the residential unemployment rate.
A look at the last two years of data shows how Northeast Pennsylvania went from near the bottom, to the bottom. Typically, the region’s jobless rate put the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton metro area among the three or four metro areas with the highest unemployment in the state, in league with Johnstown, Williamsport, and often Erie.
With commentary from our favorite tweeting economist, Mark Price!