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Jobless rates up in Pa. counties

February 11, 2003|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Unemployment rates continued a steady climb for the third straight month in Franklin and Fulton counties, but a labor market analyst expects the trend to reverse in the coming months.

Preliminary figures released by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry last week put the jobless rate in Franklin County at 6 percent in December.

That's up from 5 percent in November and 4.2 percent in October.

In Fulton County, the unemployment rate jumped to 10.2 percent in December, up from 9.8 percent in November and 5.5 percent in October.

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The increases are largely due to a seasonal influx of workers, said Joe O'Donnell, a business and industry analyst for the Department of Labor and Industry.

"There were seven hundred people added to the work force from November to December. That means that college students on break are counted in the civilian labor force if they are actively trying to find a job," he said.

Around the holidays, students home on break or retirees looking for a little extra money cause the labor pool to swell, affecting the unemployment rate, O'Donnell said.

"It is usually a very artificial jump," O'Donnell said.

In Franklin County, the 1 percent increase in unemployment rates between November and December reflects a jump from 3,500 workers without jobs to 4,300, according to the Labor Department figures.

He said the figures show some good news for Franklin and Fulton counties. There were 600 more jobs this December in the two counties when compared to the year before, and the number of people employed in November and December stayed the same.

O'Donnell said he expects the jobless rate to drop a little in January and go further down in February.

Franklin County is in line with the rest of the state and the country, which also recorded a 6 percent unemployment rate for December, according to preliminary figures.

Fulton County's figures tend to fluctuate because any change in its small labor force of 6,900 people can have a great impact on its employment rate, O'Donnell said. Plus, the department rounds its figures to the nearest 100, which can cause a shift.

For the same period last year, Franklin County's unemployment rate was 4.6 percent, while Fulton County's was 7.2 percent.

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