Lehigh Valley Payroll Employment Rose Above its Pre-recessionary Highs

Local payroll employment reached a seasonally adjusted volume of 348.4 thousand in February 2013, which is already above the pre-recessionary high of 346.0 thousand recorded in October 2007. While at the national level, average payroll employment is still lagging behind its pre-recessionary highs.

The Lehigh Valley fared better than the average region in the country. Nationwide total non-farm payroll employment dropped by 6.3 percent between January 2008 and February 2010. In the Valley the drop was 4.0 percent, a significantly smaller number.

In the twelve months after hitting bottom, national payroll was up by 1.0 percent, during that same period the Valley’s payroll recorded 1.5 percent growth.

During the following two years of the recovery the increase in the Valley’s payroll employment mirrored the national level with an average annual rate of 1.7 percent. However, due to a smaller contraction at the onset of the Great Recession and slightly stronger growth in the first year of the recovery, the Valley’s payroll employment exceeded its pre-recessionary high by 2,400 jobs or 0.7 percent. At the national level payroll employment still lags behind its pre-recessionary high by 2.7 million jobs or 2.1 percent.

In comparison to the national average, the Lehigh Valley exhibited greater economic strength both during the Great Recession and the first year of recovery. However, and particularly during the last year, the Valley lost its edge and is now growing at a slightly lower rate than the national average.