Franklin Co. regains top jobless spot in Pa.

January 30, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - After a month in which it slipped from first to third in Pennsylvania's ranking of the lowest unemployment rate, Franklin County rose to the top again in December, albeit tied with four other counties.

The county's seasonally adjusted rate of 3.4 percent tied it with neighboring Adams and Cumberland counties, along with Lebanon County and Chester counties, according to preliminary figures released Monday by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. The seasonally adjusted rate was 3.5 percent in November.

The nonseasonally adjusted rate fell from 3.3 percent in November to 3 percent, according to the report. Before November, the county had been first or tied for first for 18 consecutive months.

"Southcentral and Southeast Pennsylvania are, for the most part, where we're seeing job growth," said Ryan Horner, an industry and business analyst with the department. "Population growth is fueling the employment."


December saw another 600 people joining the ranks of the employed, raising that figure to 77,500, according to the household survey, while the number of people listed as jobless fell by 200 to 2,400 in the nonseasonally adjusted figures. The survey showed 2,300 more people working last month than in December 2005.

"Strong growth. Not outrageous ... and we're seeing it in both goods-producing and service-producing," Horner said.

"There is an underlying economy here that is able to absorb growth and we're flourishing as a result of it," said Franklin County Area Development Corp. President L. Michael Ross. Outside of the southeastern quadrant, "the rest of the state is virtually stagnant," he said.

About 200 jobs were added in warehousing and transportation as distribution centers in the Chambersburg area were busy filling Christmas orders. The report stated 4,600 people were employed in that category.

Retail jobs grew by 100 as stores added employees for the holidays. The 7,100 retail workers was a record for the county, according to the report. The number of people employed in nonfarm jobs was up 400 to 58,200, another county record.

Manufacturing was unchanged at 10,600 and Horner said mild December weather was one reason for construction employment holding steady at 3,000. For the year, manufacturing added 200 jobs.

Goods-producing jobs in Franklin County have bucked the statewide trend over the past five years. During that span, Pennsylvania saw a 15.2 percent decline in manufacturing and construction, while jobs in those sectors have grown 11.6 percent in the county.

In Fulton County, the number of people working was up, but so was the number of unemployed as the rate rose from 4 percent to 4.3 percent. Employment was up 100 to 8,200, and the number of jobless increased by 100 to 400. The report showed the drop was in service sector jobs, which fell by 100 to 2,700.

The jobless rate in December 2005 was 4.1 percent, but the report showed 200 more people working in December 2006.

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