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Unemployment rate up slightly in Franklin Co.

July 29, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Construction and manufacturing jobs were up in June, but overall unemployment in Franklin County, Pa., increased from 3.2 percent to 3.7 percent, according to preliminary figures released Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

As schools and colleges let out for the summer, the labor force in the county grew by 400 to 67,200, while the number of people working was steady at 64,700, according to the non-seasonally adjusted figure. The number of people listed as unemployed was up by 300 to 2,200.

Unemployment was at 4.4 percent in June 2003, the report stated. The jobless rate for Pennsylvania and the United States was 5.6 percent in June, according to the report.

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In Fulton County, Pa., the jobless rate increased from 4.5 percent to 5 percent, compared to 5.7 percent last June, the report stated. The number of people working held steady at 6,400, as did the number of unemployed at 300.

The number of people working in construction and natural resources rose by 200 to 3,100, according to the department. June was a record month for building permits in Franklin County, with more than 1,100, compared to fewer than 300 in June 2003, county records said. The jump was attributed to a rush to get permits before the state's Uniform Construction Code went into effect July 1.

Manufacturing jobs were up 100 to 10,800, according to state figures.

Jobs fell slightly in the service sector from 42,100 in May to 41,900 in June. The biggest decrease was in local government, where employment fell from 5,200 to 4,900.

Although most of the employees in Franklin County's six school districts are off for the summer, most are not eligible to receive unemployment, according to Rick Vensel, business manager for the Chambersburg Area School District. Teachers are on contract throughout the year and even most nine-month employees in the district receive what is called a "letter of reasonable assurance" that their jobs will be waiting for them when school resumes.

"As far as our cafeteria workers or classroom aides are concerned, by law they don't have a claim to unemployment," Vensel said.

While relatively few of the district's 1,000 employees can claim unemployment, Vensel said other workers, such as drivers for contracted bus companies could be eligible.

The state report showed a drop of 100 in the category of transportation, warehousing and utilities to 3,200. The number of people in educational and health services also fell by 100 to 8,200.

Among the state's 67 counties, Franklin had the fourth-lowest unemployment rate. Fulton County was ranked 24th, according to the report.

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