- Associated Press - Friday, March 21, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate continued its rapid drop in February, while employer payrolls inched up and the labor force grew after a 14-month skid, the state Department of Labor and Industry said Friday.

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point from 6.4 percent in January to 6.2 percent last month. That is down from 7.7 percent a year ago, a fall driven largely by the unemployed giving up the job search.

Economists say not as many younger people are entering the workforce as more people retire, quit looking for work out of frustration or stop their job search for another reason. The jobless rate last was at 6.2 percent in 2008, as the recession’s effects took hold and the rate rose. Pennsylvania hit a recessionary high of 8.7 percent in 2010.

The national rate was 6.7 percent in February.

Pennsylvania’s labor force, or the number of people working or searching for work, rose in February by 15,000 to 6.43 million, the first increase since November 2012. Employment rose by 28,000 to 6.03 million, a number that is still below the 2007 peak, and unemployment fell by 15,000 to below 400,000 for the first time since 2008.

In a separate survey of employers, the department estimated that payrolls rose by 8,700 to above 5.76 million. That number is still below the total jobs Pennsylvania had two years before its 2008 peak.

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