Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released new data showing that Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate has fallen to a record low of 3.4 percent. New analysis from the Center for American Progress finds that the state’s strong labor market is also helping fuel real wage gains for residents in the Keystone State. CAP analyzed changes in inflation-adjusted wage growth in counties across Pennsylvania from 2019 to 2023, using the most recent available data from BLS to produce brand-new regional data.
The analysis finds:
- Inflation-adjusted wages are up in 75 percent of counties in the state compared with four years ago.
- Statewide, inflation-adjusted wages have increased, on average, 5.4 percent (or $3,749 annually).
- The Pittsburgh metro area has experienced impressively strong inflation-adjusted wage growth. Wages in Allegheny County grew 7.7 percent since 2019, equivalent to a $112 increase in weekly salary (or $5,851 annually), almost double the rate from 2017 to 2019. Wages in neighboring Washington County increased 7.4 percent since 2019, equivalent to a $109 increase in weekly salary (or $5,696 annually).
- Pennsylvania’s rural communities are also benefiting from significant inflation-adjusted wage growth. Communities in York County experienced 6.7 percent wage growth, among the highest in the state, equivalent to a nearly $4,000 increase in annual salaries—even after accounting for inflation. In Lancaster County, wages grew at a rate of 6.2 percent, equivalent to a more than $3,400 increase in annual salaries.
The increase in wages and drop in unemployment comes as the state is benefiting from increased investment in infrastructure, manufacturing, and other key industries thanks to the Biden administration’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, CHIPS and Science Act, and Inflation Reduction Act. So far, these major initiatives have already directed $12.5 billion in new public and private investment into the commonwealth, from revitalizing the now-busy Philly Shipyard to removing lead pipes in communities across Pennsylvania. These wage gains also come as the Biden administration enacts new pro-labor policies and as local union members, such as nursing home workers represented by SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, have seen renewed success in bargaining for and securing raises for thousands of workers across the state.
“We finally have an administration investing in its most important asset, our people. I cannot applaud the Biden administration more for its commitment to protecting and uplifting working-class people,” said Darrin Kelly, president of the Allegheny-Fayette Central Labor Council. “Unions are critical to that by giving opportunities to those who may not have had a chance to enter the middle class. One thing the past taught us: This country moves forward with a strong middle class.”
“Americans are concerned about the health of their economy, and this analysis shows strong reason for optimism in Pennsylvania. The data show Pennsylvanians’ financial footing is stronger today than it was just four years ago—with unemployment having fallen to a record low and wages up more than inflation nearly across the board,” said Rose Khattar, director of economic analysis at the Center for American Progress. “After decades of decline, these metrics, among several others, indicate the state is seeing real success in growing the middle class with the help of new federal investments in the people of Pennsylvania.”
For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Colin Seeberger at email@example.com.