Washington and Butler counties among fastest growing employers

Posted October 2, 2011

Anya Litvak
Reporter - Pittsburgh Business Times

As Scott Detrow reported yesterday, Washington County is the third fastest-growing employer in the country, according to labor data comparing this year's March numbers with last year's.

Range Resources, a company that located in Southpointe several years ago, was quick to point out that Washington is a gravity center for Marcellus drilling.

In 2005, when Range (NYSE: RRC) was drilling its first Marcellus wells there, the county had an employment count of 74,100. This spring it was 80,200. (Michael Mackin, a spokesman for Range, said his company alone added 100 employees since last spring.)

But there's another energy-related locale on the top 10 list.

Also at 80,200 employees is Butler County, which was ranked sixth in the country for growing its employment base by 4.2 percent. Just one year ago, Butler had 76,800 employees.

It might be tempting to attribute Butler’s rise to Marcellus drilling — there is some in the county, mainly by Rex Energy (Nasdaq: REXX) — but perhaps there’s another reason.

Consider Westinghouse, which finished its relocation from Monroeville to Cranberry late last year. Vaughn Gilbert, Westinghouse’s spokesman, said the last 500 employees moved into the new building in the fall, meaning after last year’s tally.

Also backing up this theory is that Butler County had the same number of employers last March as it did this past spring — 4,800.

And check this out: Butler’s average weekly wage shot up by 9.3 percent during the first quarter this year, compared with the same time last year.

Washington’s wages rose 8.8 percent between the two quarters, which is the 11th largest growth in the country.

For comparison, wages in Allegheny County increased by 5.2 percent and in Westmoreland County by 6.1 percent. Statewide, wages were up 4.7 percent for counties included in the data. Good news for all.

And here’s something else interesting: between last spring and this one, Washington County added 100 more companies while Allegheny County added about 300.