PA Unemployment Rate in March Was 6.0 Percent – But Doesn’t Give Full Picture

| April 18, 2020

HARRISBURG, Pa.  – Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate for March 2020 was released at 6.0 percent on Friday by the Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) but with the caveat that the number doesn’t reflect the full picture for the month.

The March unemployment and jobs surveys collected data that referenced the week from March 8 – 14 before many necessary coronavirus (COVID-19) – related business and school closures occurred in the second half of the month.  The March unemployment and jobs surveys reflect the early effects of COVID-19 and mitigation efforts to contain it.  The high volume of UC claims activity resulting from COVID-19 mitigation efforts had minimal impact on March’s unemployment figures due to the fact the key week (March 8 to March 14) referenced by the unemployment figures preceded the initial spike in COVID-19 related UC Claims that occurred during the week ending March 21.

The 6.0 percent rate was up 1.3 percentage points over February. The national rate rose nine-tenths of a point to 4.4 percent. The commonwealth’s unemployment rate increased by 1.9 percentage points from March 2019 while the national rate was up six-tenths of a percentage point over the year.

Pennsylvania’s civilian labor force – the estimated number of residents working or looking for work – declined by 19,000 over the month from February’s record high level. Resident employment was down 104,000 while unemployment rose by 85,000.

Pennsylvania’s total nonfarm jobs were down 40,400 from February’s record high to 6,069,200 in March. Jobs were down in 10 of the 11 industry supersectors. The largest volume supersector decline was in leisure & hospitality which fell from a record high level in February.

Over the year, total nonfarm jobs in Pennsylvania were up 14,500 with gains in six of the 11 supersectors. The largest volume 12-month change among supersectors was an increase of 12,800 jobs in education & health services.

Additional information is available on the L&I website at or by following us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

The above data are seasonally adjusted. Seasonally adjusted data provide the most valid month-to-month comparison.

For a more detailed breakdown of seasonally adjusted jobs data at the sector level, please contact the Center for Workforce Information & Analysis at 1-877-4WF-DATA, or visit

Note: April 2020 labor force and nonfarm jobs statistics will be released May 22, 2020.

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