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Jobless numbers 'strong' in Franklin, Fulton counties

June 08, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Depending on which set of numbers one looks at, unemployment in Franklin County either dropped sharply in April or rose slightly, according to preliminary figures released this week by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

The seasonally adjusted figures showed unemployment increased from 3.2 percent to 3.4 percent in April. The nonseasonally adjusted rate dropped from 3.8 percent to 3.1 percent, according to the department.

"Either way, the numbers are strong," said David Sciamanna, executive director of the Chambersburg Area Development Corp.

"I think manufacturing has finally rebounded. The overall economy has been decent, but manufacturing has been soft for the last few years," he said.

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"Everyone I'm talking to in the manufacturing sector is optimistic. They're beginning to spend money," Sciamanna said last Tuesday.

Last month, Steve Khail, a spokesman for Wisconsin-based Manitowoc Co., which owns Grove Worldwide in Shady Grove, Pa., said Grove hired about 175 new workers since last fall and was in need of another 50 skilled welders, machinists, assemblers, engineers and production planners.

JLG Industries Inc. in McConnellsburg, Pa., Fulton County's largest employer, reported third-quarter earnings increased 55 percent to $318.7 million over the previous year. That figure included $67.1 million in earnings from the recently acquired OmniQuip, a telescopic handler manufacturer.

JLG earnings, however, increased $45.9 million for the quarter, up 22 percent from the third quarter of 2003.

For the first three quarters of 2004, JLG recorded sales of $768.8 million, up 49 percent, a number that includes $170.3 million in OmniQuip earnings.

For the Franklin-Fulton Labor Market Area, goods-producing employment increased by 300 in April to 13,600. Construction employment led the way, increasing by 200 to 2,800, while manufacturing jobs were up by 100 to 10,800, according to Department of Labor and Industry figures.

In Fulton County, the nonseasonally adjusted rate fell from 6.3 percent to 5.1 percent. The seasonally adjusted rate rose from 5.2 percent to 5.4 percent.

Franklin County ranked fifth lowest in unemployment among Pennsylvania's 67 counties. Fulton County ranked 29th.

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