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Jobless rates climb again in Franklin, Fulton counties

April 04, 2001

Jobless rates climb again in Franklin, Fulton counties



By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


Unemployment figures for February indicate the job markets in Franklin and Fulton counties are on a steady decline, according to preliminary numbers released this week by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor.

Since October, unemployment rates have been on the rise in both counties, with only one short-lived boost over the holidays, said Wayne Schopf, a labor market analyst for the Center for Workforce Information, a division of the Department of Labor and Industry.

The unemployment rate in Franklin County in February was 5.5 percent, up from 4.6 percent in January and the highest it has been in more than a year. In Fulton County, the rate was 6.7 percent in February, up from 6 percent in January.

The increase is due to continued layoffs by local manufacturers, including Grove Worldwide in Shady Grove, Pa., Schopf said.

Grove has cut about 800 workers in the last six months, while smaller companies, including Landis Gardner in Waynesboro, Beck Manufacturing in Greencastle, and Frick Co. in Waynesboro, also announced this winter they would lay off 30-40 employees each.

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Even the smaller layoffs can send the unemployment rate up because of the relatively small job markets in the two counties, Schopf said.

"Any small change is magnified in smaller counties," Schopf said.

In Franklin County, the civilian labor force totaled 64,500 in January, with 61,000 people employed and 3,600 unemployed. In Fulton County, the workforce totaled 6,200 employed workers and 400 unemployed.

Both counties now have unemployment rates above the state and national levels.

Pennsylvania's jobless rate for February was 5.2 percent, compared to 4.6 percent nationally.

Both counties are also above the unemployment rate for February 2000, when Franklin County's rate was 4.1 percent and Fulton County's was 6.2 percent.

Schopf said the cold and wet winter prohibited most construction projects and contributed to the overall rise in unemployment, but he said warmer weather won't be enough to shift the trend.

"It's really the manufacturing companies that have to come back," he said.

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