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News Release Information

Friday, October 30, 2020


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Pittsburgh Area Employment – September 2020

Local Rate of Employment Loss Faster than the National Average

Total nonfarm employment for the Pittsburgh, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area stood at 1,108,600 in September 2020, down 92,4000, or 7.7 percent, over the year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. During the same period, the national job count decreased 6.4 percent. Sheila Watkins, the Bureau’s regional commissioner, noted that the Pittsburgh area has had consecutive over-the-year employment decreases since March 2020. (See chart 1 and table 1; the Technical Note at the end of this release contains metropolitan area definitions. All data in this release are not seasonally adjusted; accordingly, over-the-year analysis is used throughout.)

Industry employment

In the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, leisure and hospitality had the largest employment loss from September 2019 to September 2020, losing 37,000 jobs. The local 30.2-percent rate of decrease compared to the 21.7-percent national decrease for this industry. (See chart 2.)

Five other local supersectors had job losses of at least 5,000 since last September: education and health services (-14,500); trade, transportation, and utilities (-12,700); professional and business services (-6,900); and construction (-6,100); and manufacturing (-5,400).

Metropolitan area employment data for October 2020 are scheduled to be released on Friday, November 20, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. (ET).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact on September 2020 Establishment Survey Data

BLS has continued to review all estimation and methodological procedures for the establishment survey, which included the review of data, estimation processes, the application of the birth-death model, and seasonal adjustment. Business births and deaths cannot be adequately captured by the establishment survey as they occur. Therefore, the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program uses a model to account for the relatively stable net employment change generated by business births and deaths. Due to the impact of COVID-19, the relationship between business births and deaths is no longer stable. Typically, reports with zero employment are not included in estimation. For the August final and September preliminary estimates, CES included a portion of these reports in the estimates and made modifications to the birth-death model. In addition for both months, the establishment survey included a portion of the reports that returned to reporting positive employment from reporting zero employment. For more information, see

In the establishment survey, workers who are paid by their employer for all or any part of the pay period including the 12th of the month are counted as employed, even if they were not actually at their jobs. Workers who are temporarily or permanently absent from their jobs and are not being paid are not counted as employed, even if they are continuing to receive benefits. The length of the reference period does vary across the respondents in the establishment survey; one-third of businesses have a weekly pay period, slightly over 40 percent a bi-weekly, about 20 percent semi-monthly, and a small amount monthly.

Technical Note

This release presents nonfarm payroll employment estimates from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program. The CES survey is a Federal-State cooperative endeavor between State employment security agencies and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Definitions. Employment data refer to persons on establishment payrolls who receive pay for any part of the pay period which includes the 12th of the month. Persons are counted at their place of work rather than at their place of residence; those appearing on more than one payroll are counted on each payroll. Industries are classified on the basis of their principal activity in accordance with the 2017 version of the North American Industry Classification System.

Method of estimation. CES State and Area employment data are produced using several estimation procedures. Where possible these data are produced using a "weighted link relative" estimation technique in which a ratio of current-month weighted employment to that of the previous-month weighted employment is computed from a sample of establishments reporting for both months. The estimates of employment for the current month are then obtained by multiplying these ratios by the previous month's employment estimates. The weighted link relative technique is utilized for data series where the sample size meets certain statistical criteria.

For some employment series, the sample of establishments is very small or highly variable. In these cases, a model-based approach is used in estimation. These models use the direct sample estimates (described above), combined with forecasts of historical (benchmarked) data to decrease volatility in estimation. Two different models (Fay-Herriot Model and Small Domain Model) are used depending on the industry level being estimated. For more detailed information about each model, refer to the BLS Handbook of Methods.

Annual revisions. Employment estimates are adjusted annually to a complete count of jobs, called benchmarks, derived principally from tax reports which are submitted by employers who are covered under state unemployment insurance (UI) laws. The benchmark information is used to adjust the monthly estimates between the new benchmark and the preceding one and also to establish the level of employment for the new benchmark month. Thus, the benchmarking process establishes the level of employment, and the sample is used to measure the month-to-month changes in the level for the subsequent months.

Reliability of the estimates. The estimates presented in this release are based on sample surveys, administrative data, and modeling and, thus, are subject to sampling and other types of errors. Sampling error is a measure of sampling variability—that is, variation that occurs by chance because a sample rather than the entire population is surveyed. Survey data are also subject to nonsampling errors, such as those which can be introduced into the data collection and processing operations. Estimates not directly derived from sample surveys are subject to additional errors resulting from the special estimation processes used. The sums of individual items may not always equal the totals shown in the same tables because of rounding.

Employment estimates. Measures of sampling error for the total nonfarm employment series are available for metropolitan areas and metropolitan divisions at Measures of sampling error for more detailed series at the area and division level are available upon request. Measures of sampling error for states at the supersector level and for the private service-providing, goods-producing, total private and total nonfarm levels are available on the BLS website at Information on recent benchmark revisions is available online at

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 on 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.

Additional information

More complete information on the technical procedures used to develop these estimates and additional data appear in Employment and Earnings, which is available online at Detailed industry employment data for metropolitan areas from the CES program are available from the State and Area Employment databases at

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.

Employees on nonfarm payrolls by industry supersector, United States and the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, not seasonally adjusted (in thousands)
Area Back
Sep 2019 to
Sep 2020

United States

Total nonfarm

151,556 139,076 (p)140,718 (p)141,855 (p)-9,701 (p)-6.4

Mining and logging

738 630 (p)620 (p)619 (p)-119 (p)-16.1


7,700 7,427 (p)7,461 (p)7,415 (p)-285 (p)-3.7


12,880 12,175 (p)12,212 (p)12,224 (p)-656 (p)-5.1

Trade, transportation, and utilities

27,575 26,095 (p)26,403 (p)26,591 (p)-984 (p)-3.6


2,860 2,583 (p)2,601 (p)2,607 (p)-253 (p)-8.8

Financial activities

8,775 8,681 (p)8,703 (p)8,682 (p)-93 (p)-1.1

Professional and business services

21,479 20,010 (p)20,220 (p)20,239 (p)-1,240 (p)-5.8

Education and health services

24,257 22,646 (p)22,835 (p)23,125 (p)-1,132 (p)-4.7

Leisure and hospitality

16,759 13,152 (p)13,231 (p)13,124 (p)-3,635 (p)-21.7

Other services

5,894 5,409 (p)5,445 (p)5,433 (p)-461 (p)-7.8


22,639 20,268 (p)20,987 (p)21,796 (p)-843 (p)-3.7

Pittsburgh, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area

Total Nonfarm

1,201.0 1,085.2 1,092.4 (p)1,108.6 (p)-92.4 (p)-7.7

Mining and logging

11.5 9.8 9.9 (p)9.9 (p)-1.6 (p)-13.9


67.4 61.9 61.4 (p)61.3 (p)-6.1 (p)-9.1


86.7 82.9 82.0 (p)81.3 (p)-5.4 (p)-6.2

Trade, transportation, and utilities

206.1 187.9 189.5 (p)193.4 (p)-12.7 (p)-6.2


19.6 17.0 17.0 (p)16.9 (p)-2.7 (p)-13.8

Financial activities

76.5 77.7 76.4 (p)76.3 (p)-0.2 (p)-0.3

Professional and business Services

184.9 174.7 176.3 (p)178.0 (p)-6.9 (p)-3.7

Education and health Services

260.2 236.8 239.2 (p)245.7 (p)-14.5 (p)-5.6

Leisure and hospitality

122.4 87.2 89.0 (p)85.4 (p)-37.0 (p)-30.2

Other services

49.3 43.5 44.4 (p)44.9 (p)-4.4 (p)-8.9


116.4 105.8 107.3 (p)115.5 (p)-0.9 (p)-0.8

(p) Preliminary


Last Modified Date: Friday, October 30, 2020