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Franklin County, Pa., unemployment rate drops

July 01, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

Chambersburg, Pa. - The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Franklin County dipped slightly from April to May, giving the county the fourth-lowest jobless rate among Pennsylvania's 67 counties.

The rate fell from 3.4 percent to 3.3 percent, according to preliminary figures released Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. The nonadjusted rate for the county was up two-tenths of a percent to 3.3 percent, according to department figures.

While the labor force increased by 600 to 66,900 people, the number employed rose by 700 to 64,700, the report stated. The number of people listed as unemployed held steady at 2,200, according to the report.

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In May 2003, the county's jobless rate was 4.5 percent.

In Fulton County, the seasonally-adjusted rate dropped from 5.3 percent to 4.9 percent in May. The number of people working remained steady at 6,300, as did the number of people unemployed, at 300.

"What we're seeing in your neck of the woods is a high demand for construction and manufacturing and warehousing," said Stacey Burke, a spokeswoman for Labor Ready, a Tacoma, Wash.-based company that supplies employers with temporary manual and low-skilled labor. Burke, whose company has an office in Chambersburg, said demand for such positions across the country is at its highest level in three years.

In the category of transportation, utilities and warehousing, the department report showed employment in Franklin and Fulton counties increasing from 12,100 to 12,400. Wholesale employment increased by 100 to 2,400.

Construction jobs in the two-county labor market area were up 100 for the month to 2,900, according to state figures.

"Locally, we see a need for skilled labor," said Rebecca Weaver, Chambersburg branch manager for Randstad North America. That includes assembly workers, industrial painters and welders in the manufacturing sector, and distribution center positions such as order selectors and forklift operators, she said.

In May, manufacturing employment was down by 100 to 10,700, the department report stated. The number of manufacturing jobs, however, is unchanged from one year ago, according to department statistics.

In the service sector, retail employment was up by 100 to 6,700 and leisure and hospitality employment also rose by 100 to 4,500 in the two counties. Nonfarm employment in the two counties was up 300 to 55,700, according to the state.

Overall, the Franklin-Fulton Labor Market Area ranked second among the 43 in the state, tied with the Harrisburg-Lebanon-Carlisle and State College markets and just behind Adams County, according to state figures.

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