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Jobless figures inch up in Pa.

November 29, 2000

Jobless figures inch up in Pa.



By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Preliminary state figures showed Monday that unemployment rates in Franklin and Fulton counties rose marginally in October for the second straight month, while a Shippensburg employer announced this week it would lay off a fraction of its workers.

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Beistle Co., a party goods and decorations manufacturer, said Monday it would lay off 30 of its workers to meet the changing needs of the industry.

It was the continued layoffs at Grove Worldwide in Shady Grove, Pa., this fall that probably nudged the jobless rate in Franklin County from 4 percent in September to 4.2 percent in October, said Wayne Schopf, a labor market analyst.

"This is not much. There was probably a little jump also because of the seasonal end of construction," he said.

In Fulton County, the unemployment rate also rose slightly from 3.2 percent in September to 3.4 percent in October, according to preliminary figures released by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

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The state unemployment rate is 4.2 percent, higher than the national 3.9 percent, according to state figures.

Schopf said he expects to see the rate stay where it is for the remainder of the year while holiday jobs bring some people back into the job market.

But the figures for the last two months are higher than earlier this year when Franklin County had a 3.1 percent unemployment rate, ranking it the 12th lowest among Pennsylvania's 67 counties. Fulton County was at 3.2 percent in August, making it the 14th lowest in the state.

October figures place Franklin at 39th and Fulton in 22nd in the state rankings.

In October, 2,700 Franklin County residents were unemployed, up from 2,600 in September. In Fulton County, the number of people without jobs - 200 - has remained steady, state figures show.

Since Sept. 9, Grove has laid off nearly 500 employees.

The most recent dismissals came Nov. 17 when Grove let 80 people go.

Schopf said that might "bump up" November's figures, but he hopes holiday retail hiring will offset that.

An additional 30 area residents will also have to find new jobs after Beistle eliminated 30 positions this week.

"This was a one-time downsizing. Positions were eliminated throughout the company and not in any one single department," said Tricia Lacy, Beistle vice president.

This is less than 10 percent of Beistle's employees, Lacy said.

"Our industry has changed over the last 30 years, and significantly in the last 10. In order to meet our customers' needs, we have to have a faster turnaround," she said. "We have to have employees able to multi-task and put an order through more quickly."

In the past, employees spent 90 percent to 95 percent of their time doing the same job all year long, Lacy said.

"We can't do that anymore. The ones terminated were having problems or simply weren't able to be flexible and handle multiple tasks," she said.

Beistle was founded in 1900 and moved to Shippensburg in 1907. Its plant is at 1 Beistle Plaza.

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