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Low Franklin County jobless rate continues

October 05, 2005|by DON AINES

HARRISBURG, PA.

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

For the fourth month this year, Franklin County had the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania in August, according to preliminary figures released last week by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

The non-seasonally adjusted jobless rate in the county fell from 3.6 percent in July to 3.2 percent, tying it with Chester County, according to the report. While Franklin County has been first or tied for first in four of the first eight months of the year, it has ranked second in the other four months, said Ryan Houser, an industry and business analyst with the department.

"Job seekers continued to enter the ... labor market and find work," the report stated. "Over the year, the civilian labor force has expanded by 900 while the count of employed residents increased by 1,000," it stated.

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The state jobless rate for August was 5 percent and the national unemployment rate was 4.9 percent, according to department figures.

Two job categories - trade, transportation and utilities, and professional and business services - were at all-time highs in August, according to the report. Trade, transportation and utilities, which includes wholesale and retail employment, was up 100 to 12,200 for the month with all of the increase in wholesale jobs.

Professional and business services added 100 jobs to reach 4,000, the report stated. That category has grown approximately 82 percent in five years, compared with a statewide growth of 5.7 percent, according to the report.

Houser said the category takes in a wide spectrum of jobs, many of them with temporary employment services that provide businesses with laborers and office personnel on a contract basis.

"That's kind of been a trend statewide," he said.

"As far as the service industry goes, those aren't necessarily high-paying jobs," Houser said.

While it can include contracted management and technical services, it also includes contracted waste removal, janitorial and unskilled services, he said.

Construction employment held steady at 3,000 in August, up from 2,800 in August 2004, according to state figures. Manufacturing jobs declined by 100 to 9,600.

The number of people employed in Franklin County increased by 400 to 74,000, while the number listed as unemployed fell by 300 to 2,500, according to the non-seasonally adjusted figures.

In Fulton County, the jobless rate decreased from 4 percent to 3.7 percent, although the number of people working was unchanged at 7,700, as was the number of unemployed at 300. Goods producing jobs fell by 100 during the month, however, to 2,400, according to the report.

The county's largest employer, JLG Industries in McConnellsburg, Pa., reported sales of $1.74 billion for the year ending July 31, up 45 percent from the previous year. The maker of aerial work platforms saw U.S. sales increase 42 percent, while foreign sales were up 57 percent, according to the earnings report released last month.

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