In the years since 2008, Pennsylvania has been slowly climbing out of the most recent economic downturn. As a matter of fact, from November 2013 to April 2014, the Pennsylvania unemployment rate fell from 6.9 percent to 5.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Training at one of Pennsylvania's vocational, technical and trade schools may help prepare some workers for jobs returning to the Keystone state.
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Top Pennsylvania industries and employers
Historically, Pennsylvania has been known for manufacturing and steel and energy, starting with the oil boom in the 1800s. Today's economy still relies on these three industry sector stalwarts, even as they face competition and decline. New industries have begun to grow up to fill in the gaps.
Energy has been big business in Pennsylvania for centuries. The driving force behind today's energy industry in Pennsylvania is shale gas, specifically the Marcellus shale deposit. Pennsylvania technical schools can provide the training for positions within this industry from driving the trucks to managing the offices. Pennsylvania energy employers include household names like Exxon-Mobil, Shell and Chevron, as well as less well-known companies like Citrus Energy and Rex Energy Operating Corp. It's not just shale, Pennsylvania is also home to over 400 solar energy businesses.
Manufacturing remains a key part of Pennsylvania's economy. In April 2014, the state's manufacturing industry employed 559,000 people, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. High tech and advanced manufacturing are working to fill the gaps left when traditional manufacturing receded. The industry also employs support and office staff including administrative assistants and accountants. Top Pennsylvania manufacturing employers include General Electric and East Penn Manufacturing Co.
Tourism contributes $32 billion to Pennsylvania's economy. Employing just shy of 550,000 people, the bulk of tourism related jobs are found in food service and accommodation, reports the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development.
Health care institutions are some of the state's largest employers, including the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Penn State Hershey Medical Center. In April 2014, the health care and social assistance industry was responsible for 938,000 jobs in Pennsylvania.
Vocational and technical jobs in Pennsylvania
Here is sampling of Pennsylvania job growth through 2020 as provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, along with their median hourly wages as of May 2013 as provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.
|Career||Total Employment||Annual Median Wage|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||2,620||57,920|
|Veterinary Technologists and Technicians||4,120||33,110|
|Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanics, Except Engines||4,440||48,010|
|Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics||13,430||30,200|
|Paralegals and Legal Assistants||10,200||53,750|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||22,330||59,410|
|Industrial Machinery Mechanics||15,540||45,690|
|Medical and Health Services Managers||14,020||82,810|
Those who are interested in obtaining the skills and experience needed for jobs in some of the state's key industries may wish to learn more about Pennsylvania vocational programs.
Long Term Occupational Employment Projections, Center for Workforce Information & Analysis, Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, 2010-2020, http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=814813&mode=2
Pennsylvania Fast Facts, Center for Workforce Information & Analysis, Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, April 2014, http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=1217887&mode=2
Pennsylvania Solar, Solar Energy Industries Association, 2013, http://www.seia.org/state-solar-policy/pennsylvania
State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Pennsylvania, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2013/may/oes_pa.htm
Tourism, Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, November 1, 2013, http://www.newpa.com/business/key-industries/tourism