The Lehigh Valley‘s unemployment rate crept up in September as the labor force continued to grow at a faster pace than businesses are hiring.
A total of 394,200 Valley residents had jobs in September, up 200 from August, according to data released Wednesday by the state Department of Labor and Industry. But the labor force grew by 500 in the same period to hit 432,200. That imbalance between job seekers and opportunities pushed the unemployment rate to 8.8 percent in September, up from 8.7 percent in August.
Sluggish job growth has been a nagging strain on the Valley economy for several months. Businesses are consistently adding jobs — the number of Valley residents employed in September was up 9,400 from a year earlier. But the labor force continues to grow at a faster pace, and September’s unemployment rate is unchanged from a year earlier.