April Jobs Rebound

PA’s Dept. of Labor & Industry released employment data for April on May 28 and the results were surprisingly positive for Pittsburgh. Employers in the seven-county Pittsburgh region increased hiring by 22,300 jobs in April, and the unemployment rate declined from 5.8 to 5.6 percent. More encouraging was the fact that some 3,900 people were added to the ranks of those looking for jobs.

The number of people employed in the metro area also jumped 20,000 in April, reaching a new record high for employment in Pittsburgh. The note of caution in this good report is that the magnitude of the gain is probably a reflection of the pent up demand from the cold winter, rather than purely from economic growth. As an indicator of that, construction employers added 7,800 jobs or 35 percent of the total gain. It’s also worth noting that April saw larger than average increases in employment in 2012 and 2013 that weren’t maintained throughout the remaining months of those years.

Growth in the industrial and manufacturing sectors continue to be robust, both for jobs and for new construction. Chapman Properties has taken advantage of that growth and is starting work on two new smaller buildings of roughly 30,000 sq. ft. The developer is building for NOV Gas in its Leetsdale park and is getting the first building underway in the Chapman Commerce Park in Findlay with a building for RPC Tubing.

Also in the Parkway West, Continental/Chaska has leased up the third building in the Pittsburgh International Business Park and is doing early planning for another.

The new owners of the Parkway Center are promising major renovations of the shell buildings to upgrade those offices in Green Tree. Given the size of the buildings, such renovations should top $10 million, exclusive of any tenant improvements.

Ferchill Development is exploring an expansion of its Heinz Lofts to repurpose additional food storage space into more apartments. The developer is working with Marous Brothers in the early stages.

In bidding/contracting news, Trumbull was low on the $80 million Turnpike roadway and bridge work between the Hampton and Harmar exits. R. D. Stewart was successful on the $6.6 million Laurie Ann West Community Center in O’Hara Twp. Vendrick Construction was low on the $8.7 million Butler County Human Services Building. Poerio Construction will begin construction on a new 7,000 sq. ft. branch for PNC Financial Services in Murrysville.


  1. Regardless of the reasons, +22,300 is better than flat. Hopefully the MSA will start posting some consistently decent gains again.

    1. Agreed. If that number of jobs were to remain in place for the entire year it would be a good year for hiring in Pgh.

  2. Hey, I just looked and it says that the Pittsburgh MSA now has 1,163,300 jobs, which is exactly identical to its all-time peak in February 2001. I sure hope the BLS doesn’t revise that number downward later in the year.

    1. I hadn’t seen the BLS numbers but other sources (PA Dept of Labor, Allegheny Conference) had the MSA at 1.19M at the end of 2013. A national real estate research & appraisal firm called IRR also quoted that kind of number from a US source (would have thought the BLS) in their Viewpoint 2014 program earlier this year. Their forecast for the next 3-5 years is for +20,000 jobs/yr. My own guess is that will be light, unless the gas industry really goes cold.

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