Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate fell to a new record low in July, and is now at the same as the national rate, according to government figures released Friday.

Meanwhile, payrolls hit a new record high, while the state’s labor force shrank.

The state’s unemployment rate fell three-tenths of a percentage point to 3.5% from June’s rate, the state Department of Labor and Industry said. The drop was the largest in the nation last month.

The national rate was 3.5% in July, as the number of people seeking unemployment benefits in the U.S. fell again last week to remain at healthy levels in the face of high-interest rates and inflation.

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate normally lags the national rate because of an economy that is less dynamic than some other states and a workforce that is relatively older and slower-growing.

Kurt Rankin, vice president, and senior economist for the PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh, said that hasn’t changed.

But, Rankin said, it was inevitable that Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate would catch up to a national unemployment rate that has remained exceptionally low for so long in a tight labor market.

Pennsylvania’s workforce remains relatively stagnant.

The U.S. labor force — a measure of the number of people working or looking for work — has grown past pre-pandemic levels, while Pennsylvania’s labor force remains below its pre-pandemic record.

That means there is a lack of people coming to the state to work, as well as fewer people in Pennsylvania who are returning to work after retiring or otherwise quitting during the COVID-19 pandemic, Rankin said.

New Hampshire posted the lowest jobless rate among all US states in July at 1.7%, the US Bureau of Statistics reported today. The next lowest rates were in Maryland and Vermont at 1.8% each.

The three states recorded their lowest jobless rates since 1976 along with Alabama, 2.1%; Louisiana, 3.4%; Massachusetts, 2.5%; Mississippi, 3.0%; Ohio, 3.3%; Pennsylvania, 3.5%; Tennessee, 3.1%; and Washington, 3.6%.

Nevada posted the highest unemployment rate in July at 5.3%.

In total, 21 states had unemployment rates lower than the US figure of 3.5%, three states and the District of Columbia had higher rates, and 26 states had rates that were not appreciably different from the national figure.

Maryland posted the largest year-over-year jobless rate decrease among all states in July, down 1.4 percentage points to 1.8%.

On the other hand, the District of Columbia and California had the largest year-over-year unemployment rate increases in July, up 0.9 and 0.8 percentage points to 5.0% and 4.6%, respectively.

Amazon is significantly expanding its own shipping service that competes with FedEx and UPS.

Earlier this week, Amazon invited some sellers to use Amazon Shipping, its own in-house delivery service, according to an email invite seen by Insider. The service delivers products sold on Amazon's own marketplace and other sites, including the seller's own or other channels, according to the invite and its official website.

"Introducing reliable and fast delivery for Amazon selling partners," the invite said. "Available for multiple channels — your website,, and more."

According to Amazon Shipping's website, the service handles shipments "within the contiguous United States," but not international delivery from the US. It's also launched in other countries, including the UK, France, Italy, Spain, and India. Amazon Shipping is available 7 days a week with weekend deliveries at no extra cost, the email invite said.

Amazon Shipping first launched a beta service in 2018 in select cities, like Los Angeles and London. But in 2020, Amazon suspended it due to the pandemic-driven supply chain lockdown, as Insider previously reported.

Amazon Shipping is the e-commerce giant's latest foray into last-mile delivery, an area once dominated by UPS, FedEx, and the US Postal Service. As of 2022, Amazon's share of parcel volume in the US stood at 23%, according to data from the e-commerce logistics layer Pitney Bowes. That's third behind the US Postal Service and UPS, who each accounted for 32% and 24%, respectively. FedEx had a 19% market share.

In an email to Insider, Amazon's spokesperson, Olivia Connors, said Amazon Shipping is "another option for shipping packages to customers quickly and cost-effectively."

"We've been providing this service for a while with positive feedback so we're now making it available to more selling partners," the statement said.

Freight Waves previously reported on some parts of Amazon Shipping's expansion.

One Amazon seller who was invited to use Amazon Shipping told Insider that the new service is a major expansion from what was previously available. This seller spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

Until now, this seller said, Amazon didn't give merchants the ability to directly book Amazon's own shipping service. If the merchant used Amazon's fulfillment service, Amazon would decide which delivery service their packages would go through, whether it's UPS or Amazon's own shipping service.

However, with Amazon Shipping, sellers now have the choice to use Amazon Shipping directly, even if they are shipping from their own warehouse. It even handles products sold on other channels, such as eBay or the seller's own website, this merchant said. They just have to book the shipment through their own Amazon seller account and go through Amazon's own back-end system.

For now, Amazon's pricing isn't as competitive for small items, said this merchant, who specializes in beauty products like facial cream. But it could become more price-competitive as it expands, the seller said. Longer term, Amazon could expand beyond its own sellers and turn this into a standalone service that directly competes with UPS or FedEx, this person said.

The expansion also takes place after Amazon added new fees to sellers not using Amazon's own fulfillment service. Amazon told sellers who use their own warehouses, but still want to be eligible for Prime placement, will have to pay an additional 2% fee, according to Bloomberg.

UPS recently made headlines with the announcement of an agreement with the Teamsters Union that will significantly raise pay and benefits for its drivers. At the end of a five-year contract, drivers will average $170,000 in pay and benefits. This agreement, which covers all UPS delivery drivers in the U.S., includes wage increases for part-time workers to at least $21 per hour and the elimination of mandatory overtime. Full-time workers will average $49 per hour. The agreement is currently in the middle of a ratification vote, which is set to end on August 22nd. 

As a result of this news, there has been a surge of interest in working for UPS. Indeed, a popular job search website reported a more than 50% increase in searches for UPS-related job titles following the announcement. Many individuals are specifically looking for delivery driver roles.

It's worth noting that UPS offers other non-degree required jobs that pay six figures. Tractor-trailer drivers earn an average of $162,000 ($112,000 in wages plus $50,000 in benefits), while long-haul drivers earn an average of $172,000 ($122,000 in wages plus $50,000 in benefits).

UPS has a two-pronged strategy to attract and retain talent. The company aims to boost pay for delivery drivers and prioritize internal hiring and promotions whenever possible. Danelle McCusker Rees, the president of human resources and operational training at UPS, began her career at the company as a part-time driver helper in 2002, demonstrating the potential for growth and advancement within the organization.

Between 2018 and 2022, UPS promoted 38,000 part-time employees to full-time positions. According to McCusker Rees, a customer-focused mindset, agility, dedication to the job, and punctuality are crucial traits that UPS looks for in employees, particularly those in driving roles. The company places great importance on being punctual to ensure on-time delivery for their customers and is dedicated to providing training for the necessary skills beyond punctuality.  

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post