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Fulton Co. reports lowest jobless rate

July 01, 1998|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The May jobless rate in Fulton County, Pa., dropped to its lowest level on record, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

Labor Analyst Larry Baugher said the rate fell from 4.1 percent to 3.1 percent from April to May. The number of people with jobs remained steady at 6,600, but the number listed as unemployed dropped from 300 to 200.

The total labor force also dropped by 100, from 6,900 to 6,800 people, according to preliminary Labor Department figures released Monday.

Baugher said it was unclear to what extent the drop in unemployment was due to people finding jobs or withdrawing from the labor market by no longer seeking jobs.

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Nevertheless, Baugher said it was the lowest rate he could find for Fulton County going back to 1985. Prior to that, he said Fulton and Franklin County's rates were figured together as part of a single labor market.

"Generally at this time of year, the unemployment rate in Fulton County is lower because of agriculture," Baugher said.

It now ranks seventh lowest among Pennsylvania's 67 counties, he said.

In May 1997, the jobless rate was 5.4 percent, but Baugher said the rate skyrocketed to 17.8 percent last August when the county's largest employer, JLG Industries in McConnellsburg, Pa., temporarily laid off more than 800 workers.

In Franklin County, unemployment rose slightly from 3.2 percent in April to 3.4 percent in May, according to state figures. The number of people with jobs rose by 300 to 64,700, while the number listed as unemployed rose by 100 to 2,300.

Baugher said the labor force for the county was up by 500 in May to 67,000 people. He said that growth was probably fueled by college students returning to the area for the summer.

Franklin County was tied for the 10th lowest in the state in May, up from eighth lowest in April, Baugher said. In May 1997, the jobless rate was 5.6 percent.

The state's unemployment rate for May was 4.3 percent.

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