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January 03, 2016

Philly unemployment rate lowest since 2008

City manages to dip below 6 percent for the first time in almost eight years

Did you make a New Year's resolution to get a new job? If so, here's hope for your resume: recently released labor statistics show that the unemployment rate in Philadelphia has reached its lowest level since 2008, and the rates in neighboring suburbs are even lower. 

The city's unemployment rate was 5.9 percent in November, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data allows Mayor Michael Nutter to leave office on a high note, boasting that the city has almost 40,000 more jobs than when he first took office.

The soon-to-be-ex-mayor praised the data as a "positive sign of health in our local economy," but noted that the city still needs to "alleviate the burden of poverty." Philly's poverty rate was 26.7 percent in 2014, according to Census data. With a population of 1.5 million, that means the number of poor people alone in Philadelphia is greater than the entire population of Pittsburgh or Newark.

Philadelphia's Unemployment Rate: 
Nov. 2005: 6.6 percent
2006: 5.9
2007: 5.9
2008: 7.6
2009: 9.9
2010: 10.4
2011: 10.4
2012: 10.3
2013: 9.3
2014: 6.8
2015 (preliminary): 5.9

In addition, Philly still lags behind the state as a whole, as well as the suburbs. The unemployment rate was 5 percent in Pennsylvania, 5.1 percent in the South Jersey counties of Burlington, Camden and Gloucester, and a stellar 3.5 percent in the counties of Montgomery, Bucks and Chester.

The statistics show that out of a labor force of around 691,000 people, over 650,000 were employed. The data has not been seasonally adjusted, so the numbers likely got a bump from the holidays, when stores start hiring extra workers.

Overall, there are 691,800 jobs in the city (more than the number of employees, since some folks work multiple jobs). Compare that to the low period of August 2009, when there were only 640,000 jobs and the unemployment rate was over 10 percent.

The industries that employ the most people in Philadelphia are health, education and government, as the federal statistics show:

•Education and Health: 220,000 people employed as of November
•Government: 100,800 employees
•Trade, Transport and Utilities: 94,900 employees
•Professional and Business Services: 89,000 employees
•Leisure and Hospitality: 69,900 employees 

So when it comes to the health of the economy, look to the healthcare industry to give Philadelphia a boost.