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Franklin County sets record for number of people working

June 30, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Franklin County's unemployment level rose slightly in May, despite setting a record for the number of people employed and remaining the county with the lowest jobless rate in the state, according to preliminary figures released Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

The survey of businesses showed total nonfarm employment at 57,500, up 800 from April and a record, according to Ryan Horner, a department business and industry analyst. The number of nonfarm jobs in the county has increased 2,100 since May 2005, the report stated.

Approximately 76,000 people had jobs, also up 800 from April and an increase of 1,500 since May 2005, according to the department's separate household survey.

"The civilian labor force is also at a record level," Horner said of the 78,400 people available for work. That number rose by 1,000 in the last month, primarily because college and high school students are entering the labor market, but also because of population growth, Horner said.

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The number of unemployed people was also up, increasing by 300 to 2,500, the report stated. The higher labor force and jobless numbers raised the nonseasonally adjusted jobless rate from 2.9 percent in April to 3.1 percent in May, according to state data.

The opening of Wal-Mart in Rouzerville, Pa., in May was the primary reason retail employment increased by 300 in May to 6,800, Horner said. Horner said that retail employment record was set in December 2004 when stores employed 7,000 workers for the height of the Christmas season.

Franklin County, which has ranked no lower than second in the state for more than a year, also has experienced steady jobs growth since the second quarter of 2002, Horner said. That was as the country was emerging from a recession, a downturn that did not affect Franklin County as badly as other parts of the state.

The Pennsylvania unemployment rate for May was 4.8 percent and the national rate was 4.4 percent, according to Department of Labor and Industry numbers.

In Fulton County, the number of people working was up by 100 to 8,100, but the number of people in the labor force increased by 200 to 8,500. While the number of unemployed was steady at 300, the jobless rate increased from 3.9 percent in April to 4 percent in May, according to state figures.

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