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Franklin County unemployment rate lowest in Pa.

December 28, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Franklin County's jobless rate increased from 3 percent to 3.4 percent in November, but the county still has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania, according to preliminary figures released Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

November was the seventh month this year that the county has been ranked lowest or tied for the lowest jobless rate in Pennsylvania, and it has not ranked lower than second, according to department figures.

The labor force fell by 400 to 75,800 and the number of people with jobs dropped by 700 to 73,200, according to the report. The number of unemployed in the county rose by 300 to 2,600, according to the nonseasonally adjusted figures.

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The number of unemployed was the same as November 2004, when the unemployment rate was 3.5 percent, the report stated.

There were some seasonal shifts in employment as the number of people employed in construction dropped by 100 to 2,800 with the onset of colder weather. As stores geared up for the holidays, retail employment increased by 200 to 7,000, beating the previous record for that category of 6,900 set in December 2004, according to department figures.

The transportation, warehousing and utilities sector was up by 100 to 3,200 and local government employment was up by 100 to 5,200 "as payrolls in many school districts continued to increase," the report stated.

Despite the increase in the jobless rate, it is still a good market for those looking for employment, according to Cathy Bowen, coordinator for the CareerLink office in Chambersburg.

"We get an awful lot of openings from the temp agencies," Bowen said. "Because unemployment is so low, employers are scrambling to fill positions."

"That makes it easier for job seekers if they really want to work. It's employers who are really struggling to find good people," Bowen said.

In Southcentral Pennsylvania, Franklin County's CareerLink office ranked second in new hires, with 51 people finding jobs in November through its computerized job-matching system, Bowen said. Neighboring Adams County, which had the state's second-lowest jobless rate, had 71 new hires, she said.

Bowen said area manufacturers have been looking to temporary employment agencies to fill labor shortages.

"Location on the (Interstate) 81 corridor and you have the (Pennsylvania) Turnpike," said South Central Employment Corp. Deputy Director David Bumbaugh when asked what is driving the region's economy. Proximity to major transportation routes has bolstered the warehousing industry, he said.

Bumbaugh also cited the work ethic of the region's population as being attractive to businesses, and cooperation between work-force development programs and economic development agencies in filling the needs of employers.

In Fulton County, the unemployment rate rose slightly from 3.9 percent to 4 percent in November. The number of people employed fell by 200 to 7,500 and the number of unemployed was unchanged at 300, according to state figures.

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