Franklin Co. keeps lowest jobless rate in state

November 02, 2005|by DON AINES

CHAMBERBURG, Pa. - Many students left the job market for school at the end of summer, while school districts put another 1,000 people on their payrolls, causing the unemployment rate in Franklin County to fall below 3 percent for the first time in many years, according to preliminary figures released today by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

The non-seasonally adjusted jobless rate fell from 3.3 percent in August to 2.9 percent in September, according to the report. The seasonally adjusted rate decreased from 3.4 percent to 3.3 percent and Franklin County maintained its ranking for the state's lowest unemployment rate, according to state figures.

September was the fifth month this year during which the county had the lowest jobless rate among Pennsylvania's 67 counties, according to state figures. The non-seasonally adjusted statewide rate was 4.4 percent.


The last time the county had a jobless rate below 3 percent was in December 1989, according to Ryan Horner, a business and industry analyst with the department.

"There's one caveat ... Everything prior to 2000 was based on the old benchmark methodology, so it's not directly comparable," Horner said.

Horner said the decrease in unemployment was due, in part, to the return of students to schools and colleges as the civilian labor force fell by 800 to 75,800. At the same time, school bus drivers, educational support staff and others who are only employed during the school year returned to their jobs, swelling the number of people employed by local governments by 1,000 to 4,900.

"We're very proud we have the lowest unemployment rate in the commonwealth, but it puts pressure on employers in terms of finding and training a work force," said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp. Filling the work force requirements of businesses and industries is one area the development corporation and its partners have been working on in recent years, he said.

"Not only is Franklin County doing well, but the whole Cumberland Valley is doing well" as the Washington, D.C., area continues to expand beyond the Beltway and development from the Harrisburg, Pa., area continues to push southward, Ross said.

The number of non-farming jobs in the county rose by 700 to 53,700. Along with local government, the report showed gains of 100 in the transportation, utilities and warehousing category to 3,100 employees, and a gain of 100 jobs in educational and health services to 8,000, the report.

Those gains were partially offset by decreases other seasonal industries, such as construction, which fell by 100 jobs to 2,900, and leisure and hospitality, which fell by 200 jobs to 4,300.

In Fulton County, the unemployment rate remained at 3.8 percent for the second month in a row, according to the department. Prior to August, the last time the county's rate hit 3.8 percent was October 2000, Horner said.

Department figures put employment at 7,600 and unemployment at 300.

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