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Franklin Co. jobless rate remains lowest in state

August 30, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The unemployment rate for Franklin County was unchanged from June to July, remaining the lowest among Pennsylvania's 67 counties at 3.3 percent, according to preliminary figures released this week by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

The county has held the top position for all of 2006 and had the lowest jobless rate for much of last year, according to state figures. Neighboring Adams County again finished second, the report stated.

"Every sector, from health care to manufacturing, to the commercial and retail sectors ... There's a shortage on all fronts," said Franklin County Area Development Corp. President L. Michael Ross.

The most pressing need of employers is, he said, "employees." Employers are becoming more aggressive in hiring practices, he said.

"For employers looking to grow, or expand, or move into the area, it's a challenge," he said.

Ross said he had recently seen a help wanted advertisement in which a fast food restaurant was offering a $2,000 signing bonus for a manager's position. "Other employers are almost put in the position of responding in kind," Ross said.

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On Norland Avenue in Chambersburg, Pa., a large retail development, Chambersburg Crossing, which will include a Target, Kohl's and other major stores and restaurants, will create a demand for 500 to 700 jobs by March 2007, Ross said.

"The growth isn't just concentrated in Chambersburg," Ross said, noting the major retail openings at Rouzerville Commons near Waynesboro, Pa.

Ross said Manitowoc Crane in Shady Grove, Pa., is planning a major expansion that will add more than 200 jobs and other manufacturers have embarked on, or are exploring, expanding their operations.

The manufacturing and wholesale sectors added jobs in July, but staffing levels in health and education services and local and state government decreased during the month, largely as a result of schools closing for the summer.

Total non-farm employment fell by 900 from June to 56,800, but was still a record for July. The report stated that non-farm jobs had increased by 2,000 from July 2005 and were up 9,900 from five years ago.

Manufacturing added 100 jobs for the second month in a row and has not posted a decrease since October 2005. The county's more than 200 manufacturers employed approximately 10,600 people in July, up from 10,300 in July 2005, according to the state's Center for Workforce Information and Analysis.

The total number of people employed increased by 600 in July to 77,800 and the number of unemployed was up by 100 to 2,700, according to the report.

Fulton County's jobless rate rose from 4 percent in June to 4.1 percent in July. The number of people working was unchanged at 8,300, but the number of unemployed rose by 100 to 400.

Manufacturing jobs increased by 100 to 2,700, while government employment fell by 100 to 700, the report stated.

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