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News Release Information

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Contacts Technical information: Media contact:

Unemployment in the Pittsburgh Area by County – December 2019

Unemployment Rates in Three Area Counties Increased Over the Year

In December, Allegheny County had the lowest unemployment rate in the Pittsburgh, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area, at 4.2 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Sheila Watkins, the Bureau’s regional commissioner, noted that all area counties had a higher unemployment rate than the nation’s 3.4 percent. Fayette County had the area’s highest unemployment rate at 7.0 percent, followed by Armstrong County at 6.4 percent. (See chart 1 and chart 2. The Technical Note at the end of this release contains the metropolitan area definition. All data in this release are not seasonally adjusted; accordingly, over-the-year analysis is used throughout.)

In December 2019, all seven Pittsburgh-area counties had over-the-year unemployment rate increases. Armstrong County had the largest rate increase, up 1.5 percentage points, followed by Fayette County, up 1.3 points. (See table A.) The U.S. unemployment rate declined 0.3 percentage point over the year.

Table A. Unemployment rates for the United States, the Pittsburgh, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area, and its components, not seasonally adjusted

Unemployment ratesChange from
Dec 2017
Dec 2019(1)
Dec 2018
Dec 2019(1)

United States

Go to web page with historical data for series LNU04000000

Pittsburgh, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area

Go to web page with historical data for series LAUMT423830000000003

Allegheny County, PA

Go to web page with historical data for series LAUCN420030000000003

Armstrong County, PA

Go to web page with historical data for series LAUCN420050000000003

Beaver County, PA

Go to web page with historical data for series LAUCN420070000000003

Butler County, PA

Go to web page with historical data for series LAUCN420190000000003

Fayette County, PA

Go to web page with historical data for series LAUCN420510000000003

Washington County, PA

Go to web page with historical data for series LAUCN421250000000003

Westmoreland County, PA

Go to web page with historical data for series LAUCN421290000000003

(1) Data for the Pittsburgh, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area and its components are preliminary for the most recent month.

Six of the seven counties in the Pittsburgh area had unemployment rate increases from December 2017 to December 2019. The largest rate increase was in Armstrong County at 0.7 percentage point, followed by Fayette County at 0.5 point. The jobless rate in Beaver County was unchanged. The U.S. jobless rate decreased 0.5 percentage point over the two-year period.

The Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment news release for January is scheduled to be released on Friday, March 20, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. (EDT).

Technical Note

This release presents unemployment rate data for states and counties from the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program, a federal-state cooperative endeavor. 

Definitions. The labor force and unemployment data are based on the same concepts and definitions as those used for the official national estimates obtained from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a sample survey of households that is conducted for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) by the U.S. Census Bureau. The LAUS program measures employment and unemployment on a place-of-residence basis. The universe for each is the civilian noninstitutional population 16 years of age and over.  Employed persons are those who did any work at all for pay or profit in the reference week (the week including the 12th of the month) or worked 15 hours or more without pay in a family business or farm, plus those not working who had a job from which they were temporarily absent, whether or not paid, for such reasons as labor-management dispute, illness, or vacation. Unemployed persons are those who were not employed during the reference week (based on the definition above), had actively looked for a job sometime in the 4-week period ending with the reference week, and were currently available for work; persons on layoff expecting recall need not be looking for work to be counted as unemployed.  The labor force is the sum of employed and unemployed persons. The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed as a percent of the labor force.

Methods of Estimation. The LAUS program is a hierarchy of non-survey methodologies for indirectly estimating employment and unemployment in states and local areas. Statewide data are produced through a modeling technique that uses estimates of payroll jobs from the Current Employment Statistics survey and unemployment insurance claims counts from the state workforce agencies to mitigate volatility in the direct CPS tabulations of employment and unemployment, respectively. Data for counties are developed through a building-block approach and adjusted proportionally to state model-based totals. For multi-county areas, such as the metropolitan areas and metropolitan divisions delineated by the Office of Management and Budget, estimates are summed from the data for their component counties. Estimates for cities and towns are produced through a disaggregation technique.

Annual revisions. Labor force and unemployment data for prior years reflect adjustments made at the end of each year. The adjusted estimates reflect updated population data from the U.S. Census Bureau, any revisions in the other data sources, and model reestimation. All substate estimates are reestimated and adjusted to add to the revised model-based estimates for states.

Area definitions. The substate area data published in this release reflect the standards and definitions established by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, dated April 10, 2018. A detailed list of the geographic definitions is available at

The Pittsburgh, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland counties in Pennsylvania.

Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339.

  Chart 2. Unemployment rates for counties in the Pittsburgh, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area, not seasonally adjusted, December 2019


Last Modified Date: Wednesday, February 19, 2020