Halting and Uneven Jobs Recovery in the Pittsburgh Region

Summary of Study

Bottom Line: The business-unfriendly high-tax and regulatory environment in Pennsylvania--and the Pittsburgh region--that was responsible for the pre-virus sluggish growth will also hamper the economy’s recovery.

May payroll jobs numbers for the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) have been reported by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As expected, the May data continue to show the economic devastation from the lockdown ordered by Governor Tom Wolf in response to the coronavirus. Despite a loosening of restrictions in May with all counties in the metro area being moved into the governor’s yellow phase by mid-month, ongoing dramatic job declines from pre-virus levels continued.

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Feature Charticle

Allegheny Institute for Public Policy



  • Total nonfarm jobs had a slight recovery in May, dropping just 15 percent from May 2019 instead of 18 percent as was seen in April.
  • Compared to the national growth, the Pittsburgh MSA’s performance has been lackluster due to an unfriendly business climate. The national growth rate was three times faster than the MSA before the lockdown commenced. The drop nationally was not as steep as it was locally for April and May.
  • The hardest hit sector, leisure and hospitality, lost 58,700 jobs and is at the lowest job total since 1990.
  • Surprisingly, the health care sector lost 30,400 jobs from May 2019. Doctor’s offices and outpatient services lost 18,300 of these jobs while hospitals dropped another 3,100 (5 percent). 

Read the full policy brief here