The seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area had 7,700 fewer jobs in July than what employers had on their payrolls a month earlier, according to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“In normal years, a little bit of decline in the middle of the summer is pretty normal,” said Chris Briem, a regional economist at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Social and Urban Research. “The decline itself isn’t troubling. It’s only troubling in the fact that we still have a decent number of jobs we have to get back if we want to get back to pre-COVID levels.”
The Pittsburgh region has slowly recovered jobs lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic — adding 50,100 jobs from July 2020 to July 2021. But when compared to July 2019, the region is still 69,000 jobs shy of pre-COVID employment levels.
Some industries showed strong recovery in July. The construction industry added 8,300 jobs from July 2020. It was one of the strongest months of construction employment in years. The 66,800 construction jobs reported in July was more than in pre-COVID July 2019.
The rise of employment in the leisure and hospitality industry, the hardest hit at the height of the pandemic, has contributed to what job growth there has been in the region. The industry added 4,300 jobs last month and had 21,800 more workers than in July 2020.
“Leisure and hospitality is getting back to normal levels,” Briem said. “It’s still below where it should be, but business travel is not back to normal and that’s probably one part of why that is. It’s the one industry that is doing what we want to happen across the board.
“At this point, I’m pretty convinced we’ve seen a reset in the levels of jobs in the region. I think we’ll see some more come back in the fall as the students come back and provide both labor supply and demand for jobs. But, I think we’ve clearly reset to a slightly lower level of jobs. I’m not expecting there to be a snap back to pre-COVID levels of employment.”