Last updated: February 20. 2013 12:41AM - 419 Views

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The Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased one-tenth of a percentage point in November, dropping to 9.4 percent.

Even with the slight dip, this region remained the only one of the state's 14 major metro areas with a rate above 8.7 percent and marked the 31st consecutive month the Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wyoming tri-county region led the state in highest unemployment rate.

Though the region saw a decrease, it was not as significant as the declines realized by both Pennsylvania and the nation in November. Pennsylvania's rate decreased three-tenths of a point over the month to 7.8 percent, while the U.S. rate decreased two-tenths to 7.7 percent.

When comparing November 2011 to November 2012, the local rate bucked the state and national trend by actually increasing two-tenths of a percentage point over the past year, while the U.S. rate has fallen a full percentage point and Pennsylvania's rate was unchanged.

While the pure numbers don't appear to be encouraging, there were some highlights tucked inside the report by the state Department of Labor and Industry's Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, including a record number of workers in the service-providing and local government educational services sectors.

The service-providing component of the local economy again set a new record high, at 225,800 jobs. This level was 1,900 higher than October, and was up 3,400 since November 2011.

Job increases were largely driven by three supersectors: trade, transportation, utilities, professional and business services and education and health services.

Local government educational services, while only up modestly over the month, reached a record high level of 13,100 jobs. Record-keeping for this series began in 1990, and for comparison's sake, its level in November 1990 was 10,700.

Goods-producing industries were up over the year, having gained 1,700 jobs. Supersectors including mining, logging and construction, as well as manufacturing, also posted gains since November 2011.

Anthony Liuzzo, director of the master of business administration program at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, said the report is nothing to celebrate or to be concerned over.

I'm not doing cartwheels over it, Liuzzo said, noting a decrease in the rate is a good sign but still much too high for those people who are looking for jobs.

He believes the small decrease will be a trend in coming months. I don't think we're going to change too dramatically anytime soon, said Liuzzo. We're in a recovery, but we're moving at a snail's pace.

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