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Jobless rate lowest among 50 labor market areas

March 28, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Franklin County had the lowest unemployment rate among Pennsylvania's 50 labor market areas in January, based on figures released Thursday by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

The rate fell from 3.9 percent in December to 3.4 percent in January, according to the preliminary seasonally adjusted figures, which take into account natural fluctuations in employment, according to Walter Nichols, an industry and business analyst for the department.

"You have a lot of people leaving retail jobs after the holidays. The seasonally adjusted (figure) accounts for that," he said.

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The nonseasonally adjusted rate increased from 3.5 percent to 3.9 percent, according to department figures.

Now known as the Chambersburg Micropolitan Statistical Area, the statistics still cover all of Franklin County, according to Nichols. Franklin and Fulton counties have previously been part of the same labor market area.

The U.S. Census Bureau defines a micropolitan statistical area as having "at least one urban cluster of at least 10,000 but less than 50,000 people."

Nichols said the department also is using a new method of calculation that gives greater weight to the current population survey, telephone interviews of a sampling of households to determine the number of people living there and whether they work or are unemployed.

Jobless claims, business employment surveys and other statistics also are included in the calculations, he said.

Nichols said the changed methodology accounts for higher labor force, employment and unemployment numbers. For example, 72,400 people in Franklin County were listed as employed in January using the new method, compared with 64,200 in December using the old method of calculation.

Changes include adjustments in determining residency and revised unemployment formulas, according to Nichols.

"Employment data is based on where you live, not where you work," he said. Thus, the data takes in more people who live within the county, but work elsewhere, he said.

The Franklin County survey of nonfarm jobs showed 53,000 people working in January, down from 53,600 in December, but up from 51,100 in January, 2004.

Manufacturing jobs increased by 100 to 9,800 and increased by 300 from one year before. Construction jobs fell by 100 to 2,600, according to department figures.

Department figures showed 18.5 percent of the jobs in Franklin County are in manufacturing, compared with 12.3 percent statewide.

The service sector portion of the economy lost approximately 500 jobs, 300 of them in retail trade.

Fulton County had the 11th-lowest seasonally adjusted jobless rate at 4 percent in January, but its nonseasonally adjusted rate was 5.5 percent.

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