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Franklin Co. has state's lowest jobless rate

April 04, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The unemployment rate for Franklin County was up in February, but the county reclaimed the top spot for the lowest jobless rate among the state's 67 counties, according to preliminary figures released Monday by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

The nonseasonally adjusted rate rose from 3.2 percent in January to 3.6 percent in February, the report stated. The seasonally adjusted rate was also up, from 2.6 percent to 3 percent, according to the report.

That put Franklin County ahead of Adams and Lebanon counties, which were tied for second at 3.2 percent, according to the report. The county ranked second in January and during all of 2005 was either ranked first or second, according to previous monthly reports.

"People are moving in ... That's where your jobs are coming from," said Ryan Horner, a business and industry analyst with the department. Franklin County is one of the three fastest-growing counties in the state in terms of population, he said.

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The population grew by nearly 2 percent in 2005, adding about 2,500 people, county Senior Planner Sherri Clayton said last week. From February 2005 to this February, the state's household survey estimated the number of people working in the county had grown by 1,700 to 74,600.

From January to February, the department report stated the number of people listed as unemployed was up 300 to 2,800, but the number had been 3,000 in February 2005 when the jobless rate was 3.9 percent.

The department's survey of businesses showed the number of nonfarm jobs was up 300 to 56,300 for the month and up 1,800 from one year earlier. The 3.3 percent growth was three times the statewide average, according to the figures.

The number of state employees in the survey was up 200 to 1,200, which Horner said was due in part to some employees of area colleges returning from winter breaks. Local government employment was up 100 to 5,100, which Horner also attributed to some school district employees being on break in January when the survey was taken.

Retail employment continued its seasonal decline from the holiday peak of 6,900 in December. That sector lost 400 workers in January and another 100 in February to 6,400, the report stated.

Another seasonal decline was in construction, where the number of workers was down by 100 to 2,700, according to department figures. Manufacturing jobs were unchanged for the fifth month in a row at 10,400, but that was 600 more than February 2005.

The professional and business services category added 200 employees, hitting a record 4,200.

"What normally would drive that is temporary workers," said Horner. That area has flourished, growing 90 percent in five years as warehousing and other businesses seek to fill staffing needs, he said.

In Fulton County, the jobless rate rose from 4.7 percent in January to 5.6 percent in February as the number of unemployed increased by 100 to 500 and the number with jobs fell by 100 to 7,800.

In the nonfarm job survey, the service sector lost 200 jobs, decreasing to 2,600, whiles goods-producing jobs were unchanged at 3,100.

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