Employment down, wages mixed locally

Theoretically, the recession is over, but employment continues to decline, the Labor Department reported Tuesday morning. From March 2009 to March 2010, employment declined in 296 of the nation's 320 largest counties, including all of the counties in this area.

Nationally, average wages rose by 0.8 percent to $889 in the first quarter, but wages were mixed in this region. Wages rose by that percent in nearby New Castle, County Delaware, up to $1,123 a week. Wages also rose in Chester County, up 1.3 percent to $1,132 weekly. Pennsylvania's Delaware County saw the biggest increase, up 2.4 percent to $965. Also up were wages in Burlington County, up 1.7 percent to $931, and Montgomery, up 1.2 percent to $1,174.

Gloucester County led the downward parade, on top of the region's lowest wages. Weekly wages dropped 1.8 percent to $760.  Wages fell 1.7 percent to $831 in Bucks, 1.2 percent to $859 in Camden and 0.9 percent to $1,035 in Philadelphia. 

Nationally, the biggest job loss on a percentage basis occurred in Collier, Fla., down 6 percent. Biggest increase, by percent, was in Elkhart, Ind., up 5.7 percent.

Wages rose highest in New York City, up 11.9 percent,  Wages declined by a stunning 17.7 percent in San Mateo County, California. Mercer and Hudson Counties in New Jersey were among the top gainers in wages, with average first quarter weekly wages up $147 to $1,538  in Hudson County, an increase of  10.6 percent, and up $50 in Mercer, up 4.3 percent.

New Jersey's Somerset and Hudson counties are among the top ten for weekly pay in the nation. Average weekly wage in Somerset is $1,787, down by 0.6 percent from the first quarter of 2009.