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Franklin County holds state's lowest jobless rate

June 05, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Increases in wholesale and retail hiring, and a seasonal increase in construction jobs, helped Franklin County maintain its hold on the lowest unemployment rate among Pennsylvania's 67 counties, according to the preliminary report for April issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

The nonseasonally adjusted rate for the county fell from 3.5 percent in March to 2.9 percent in April, according to the report. The seasonally adjusted rate, which accounts for changing employment patterns through the year, was steady at 3.1 percent.

The department's household survey estimated that employment decreased by 100 to 75,200, but that the number of people listed as unemployed fell by 500 to 2,200.

"We didn't see a large jump in employment, but we are seeing some expected seasonal increases in areas like construction," said Ryan Horner, an industry and business analyst with the department. Construction jobs increased by 200, slightly above the five-year average for April, to 2,900, Horner said.

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Horner attributed some of that to April having been a relatively warm month.

Residential construction remains about on pace with the first four months of 2005, according to Sherri Clayton, a senior planner for the county. Through the end of April, townships and boroughs reported issuing 323 building permits, compared to 338 during the same period in 2005, she said.

Distribution centers and warehousing increased employment by 100 to 2,600, according to the report. Retailers added another 100 people to their payrolls, bringing the number to 6,500.

The employment category of trade, transportation and utilities, which includes wholesale and retail employment, has grown 33 percent in the past five years, according to the report.

There were decreases of 200 in leisure and hospitality jobs, which fell to 4,300, and in state government employment, which fell by 100 to 1,100. Horner said the leisure and hospitality decrease might be due to the transition from winter activities such as skiing to spring activities.

Total nonfarm jobs in the county were up by 100 to 56,700, 200 short of the all-time record in December 2005 and 1,500 higher than in April 2005, the report stated.

The nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Fulton County was also down, going from 4.8 percent in March to 3.9 percent in April, according to the department. The number of people working went from 7,900 to 8,000 and the number listed as jobless fell by 100 to 300.

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