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Franklin Co. loses hold on state's jobless rate

March 16, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Franklin County lost its grip on the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania, falling to second place behind Susquehanna County in January, according to preliminary figures released Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

The non-seasonally adjusted jobless rate increased from 2.8 percent to 3.2 percent, according to Ryan Horner, an industry and business analyst with the department. However, the seasonally-adjusted figure, which takes into account expected changes in the job market, showed the unemployment rate falling from 3.2 percent to 2.6 percent.

Regardless of which set of numbers is used, Horner said the county has shown strong job growth over the previous year. For example, the unadjusted figures show an increase of 2,100 in the number of people working since January 2005, when the unemployment rate was 3.7 percent.

Franklin County ranked first or second for the lowest monthly unemployment rate in Pennsylvania during 2005, according to department figures.

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"The unadjusted seasonal data shows people at work, unemployed or out of the labor force regardless of season," Horner said. Typically, the unadjusted data will show increased unemployment in January as a result of layoffs in the retail sector after Christmas and in June and July when large numbers of high school and college students are added to the labor force.

The seasonally-adjusted figures take into account these normal fluctuations, he said.

The survey of non-farm jobs for January showed a loss of 400 retail jobs, down to 6,500. Warehousing jobs were down by 100 to 4,100 and in construction, where work typically slackens in winter, employment fell by 100 to 2,800.

Manufacturing employment remained steady at 10,400 from January to December, but the report showed manufacturing jobs had increased by 700 since January 2005.

Service sector employment fell by 800 for the month, with leisure and hospitality being the only category to post a gain, increasing employment by 100 to 4,600 people.

The household survey estimated 75,300 people working, an increase of 100 from December, but the number of unemployed was up by 400 to 2,500, according to the unadjusted figures. Adjusted for seasonal fluctuations, the survey estimated the number of jobless at 2,000.

The unemployment rate in Fulton County increased from 4.3 percent in December to 4.7 percent in January, according to department figures. That compared to a 5.3 percent rate in January 2005.

The number of people working was unchanged at 7,900, but the number of jobless increased by 100 to 400, according to department data.

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