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Franklin County leads state with lowest unemployment numbers

December 04, 2005|By DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Once again, Franklin County had the lowest unemployment rate among Pennsylvania's 67 counties in October, with a rate of 2.9 percent, according to preliminary figures from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

The nonseasonally adjusted jobless rate was down from the revised September rate of 3.1 percent, according to department figures. Franklin County was tied with neighboring Adams County for the lowest rate in the state and, in an indication of the regional strength of the economy, neighboring Cumberland County ranked third.

October was the sixth month this year that Franklin County had the lowest or was tied for the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania, according to department statistics. The county has ranked no lower than second this year.

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"We're right in the middle of it all," County Commissioner Bob Thomas said. "The Cumberland Valley is clearly on the national map as far as growth and development, and that includes jobs."

"What's happening in Franklin County is a microcosm of what's happening in the Cumberland Valley," said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp. He said employment numbers for November and December could be even better with increased holiday retail trade.

The housing market is strong, thanks to the expansion from the Baltimore, Washington and Harrisburg, Pa., areas, Thomas said. Employment at Letterkenny Army Depot is expected to continue growing and the county's industrial base remains strong, he said.

"We're seeing growth in all sectors," said Ross, who predicts no letup in the foreseeable future.

The number of people employed in the county was 73,900, up 400 from September, while the number of jobless fell by 100 to 2,200, according to the department.

Construction jobs held steady at 2,900, as did manufacturing jobs at 9,600. Reflecting the county's building boom, the report stated that construction employment has increased 32 percent during the past five years, while manufacturing employment has decreased by nearly 18 percent.

Retail jobs grew by 100 during the month to 6,800 and the educational and health services category showed an increase of 100 jobs to 8,100, the report stated. Local government employment grew by 200 to 5,100, while the leisure and hospitality category showed a drop of 100 jobs to 4,200.

Fulton County's employment picture also improved, according to the report, with the nonseasonally adjusted jobless rate decreasing from 3.9 percent to 3.7 percent, according to preliminary figures.

The number of people working increased by 100 to 7,700, the report stated. The number of unemployed was unchanged at 300.

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