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Franklin County jobless rate is third lowest in Pa.

April 03, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Only two of Pennsylvania's 67 counties posted lower unemployment numbers than Franklin County in February, according to preliminary figures released Monday by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

The seasonally-adjusted jobless rate decreased from 3.5 percent in January to 2.8 percent in February as retail trade, education and health services, professional and business services and state government added jobs, according to the report. The nonadjusted figures, which do not take into account seasonal fluctuations, showed the jobless rate falling from 3.9 percent to 3.4 percent.

Retail jobs fell by 300 in January as stores scaled back after the holidays, but 100 jobs were added in February as the number grew to 6,700.

"That's a little atypical," said Ryan Horner, an industry and business analyst with the department. Normally, retail jobs in February would hold steady or decline, he said, but major retailers such as Target, Circuit City, PetSmart and Michaels were beginning to hire and train as they geared up to open stores in Chambersburg. "I would expect to see even more in the way of increases over the next few months" as more stores at Chambersburg Crossing and other shopping centers in the borough's North End begin to open.

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Professional and business services, primarily companies that provide temporary workers, added 200 jobs during the month to hit 4,500, Horner said. That category has increased 7.1 percent in Franklin County during the past year, compared to 2.5 percent statewide.

Employment in educational and health services increased 100 to 8,700 and state government employment was also up by 100 to 1,200, according to the report. Employment in those categories often goes up in February after falling in January, depending on when schools and colleges return from winter vacations, Horner said.

The household survey estimated that 76,400 people were working in February, down 600 from January. The number of people listed as unemployed, however, was down by 500 to 2,700, the report stated.

Cumberland and Chester counties were tied for the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 2.7 percent, according to the report.

Unemployment rose from 6.1 percent to 6.3 percent in Fulton County, according to department statistics. The number of people working was own 100 to 7,900, while the number of unemployed was unchanged at 500.

Manufacturing jobs rose by 100 to 2,600 people, or about a third of the Fulton County's total work force.

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