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Erie — Employment Growth Still Limited

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July 2015 | PDF

The Erie metro area’s unemployment rate remains close to the US average. Nevertheless, toward the end of 2014, employment levels were still well below where they were when the Great Recession began. Home prices, however, are a bright spot, rising roughly 4 percent in early 2015 relative to a year ago. And area credit card delinquency rates remain low compared to the rates that prevailed as the last expansion ended.

Erie's unemployment rate fell 2 percentage points in 2014

Unemployment Rate

The unemployment rate fell sharply in Erie in 2014, by 2 percentage points. This was about twice as great as the decline for the area in 2013 (0.9 percentage points), as well as the decline for the nation in 2014 (1.1 percentage points). The Erie metro area’s unemployment rate has tended to be below or about equal to the national average throughout this recovery, a reversal from the previous expansion in the 2000s. Preliminary data for April indicate that the area’s unemployment rate continues to be close to the national average: 5.5 percent versus 5.4 percent for the United States.

Home prices in Erie have trended upward since the onset of the Great Recession

Housing Prices

In general, home prices in the Erie metro area avoided the downturn that affected much of the rest of the United States according to data from Zillow. Since December 2007, when the Great Recession began, home prices in the area have generally continued to trend upward and, as of March 2015, are about 13 percent higher. By contrast, over the same time period home prices have fallen by about 6 percent nationally. Over the year ending in March 2015, home prices in Erie rose roughly 4 percent, the same increase seen nationwide.

Erie has yet to recover its pre-recession employment level


After increasing early in the recovery, Erie’s employment peaked in 2012. In the two-year period from March 2012 to March 2014, employment in the metro area declined by about 2 percent. (For context, the area’s employment decline during the Great Recession was about 4 percent.) Nevertheless, Erie’s employment has trended up since early 2014, increasing almost half a percent between March and September of that year. Still, employment levels in the area remain about 3 percent below where they were when the Great Recession began.

Erie's financial activities sector outperformed the nation's

Employment Growth by Sector

Several industry segments in Erie saw employment gains between September 2013 and September 2014, with one—financial activities—registering a much stronger employment increase than the industry did nationally (3.8 percent versus 0.8 percent). Nevertheless, overall employment in the area was almost unchanged during this period, rising a scant 0.1 percent from the fall of 2013 to the fall of 2015. In part, that’s because the industry segments that saw employment declines (government, manufacturing, and trade, transportation, and utilities) collectively account for about half of the area’s employment.

Credit card delinquency rates in Erie are slightly higher than those of the nation

Credit Card Delinquency Rates

Credit card delinquency rates in the Erie metro area have trended down throughout the recovery and remain below the rates that were common in the area toward the end of the last expansion. In 2014, these delinquency rates fell by about 0.7 percentage points; however, declines in delinquency rates were more pronounced in Pennsylvania (–1.2 percentage points) and in the United States (–1.8 percentage points) during the year. As a result, credit card delinquency rates in the Erie area are now slightly above those in the nation, which has not been the case throughout most of this recovery.

  Erie metro area United States
2013 Change from 2009 2013 Change from 2009
Population 280,294
+0.2% 316,129,000 +3.1%
Adults with less than a high school diploma 10.2% −1.3% 13.4% −1.3%
Adults with an undergraduate degree or higher 26.6% +2.6% 29.6% +1.7%
Median age (years) 38.7 +0.2 years 37.5 +0.7 years
Median household income $44,893 −.9% $52,959 −4.2%

Sources: American Community Survey; Bureau of Economic Analysis; Census population estimates.

Demographics and Education

According to the 2014 Census population estimates, Erie is the 167th largest of the nation’s 381 metropolitan statistical areas. This is down from the 166th largest in 2013.

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