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Jobless numbers down in counties

July 02, 2003|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Franklin County's unemployment rate edged downward from 4.6 percent in April to 4.4 percent in May, ranking it eighth lowest among the state's 67 counties, according to preliminary figures from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

Fulton County saw its jobless rate fall from 6.5 percent to 6 percent during the month, ranking it 32nd in the state, according to department figures.

Both counties had seen more dramatic drops in April, as unemployment fell from 5.4 percent to 4.6 percent in Franklin and from 7.9 percent to 6.5 percent in Fulton, according to the revised April figures.

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Construction led the way for the larger decrease in April when the industry added 300 jobs. Despite a nationwide jump of 6.1 percent in May housing starts, however, that number held steady in the two-county labor market at 2,900 jobs.

Restaurants and hotels added 200 jobs for a total of 4,800 in the two counties as those businesses prepared for the summer travel season, aided by an influx of college and high school students entering the job market, according to the report.

"Employment does increase in the summer," said Pat Slayton, customer service representative for Four Points Sheraton in Chambersburg. "You have more people coming in for Gettysburg, re-enactors and the car shows," mentioning some of the region's summertime attractions.

The rainy weather in May probably limited growth in house and garden businesses, the report stated.

"Business was down, but it didn't affect the employment any," said Tom Harmon, owner of Philips' Seeds and Garden Center in Greencastle, Pa.

Tammy Baer, owner of Baer's Garden Center in Shippensburg, Pa., agreed.

"We had the people hired for spring, but it generally slowed the work down," she said of the wet weather.

Manufacturing continued to show a recovery, adding another 100 jobs in May for a total of 10,600. That still is down from May 2002, when 11,400 people were employed in manufacturing, the report stated.

For the two-county labor market, both the labor force and the number of people employed are more than 1,000 ahead of the same time last year.

The labor force in Franklin County grew from 65,100 to 66,100 in the past year and the number of people with jobs went from 62,100 to 63,200. Fulton County's labor force was up by 100 since last year, as was the number employed at 6,200, according to the report.

Despite the growth in the labor force, the growth in employment kept the jobless numbers in line with those of a year ago, when Franklin County's rate was 4.6 percent and Fulton County's stood at 5.7 percent.

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