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Franklin Co. jobless rate remains low in May

June 28, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Job growth in Franklin County has far outstripped that of the rest of Pennsylvania in the past five years, helping it remain near the top of the list of counties with the lowest unemployment, according to preliminary figures released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor and Industry.

Total nonfarm jobs in the county have increased 22.2 percent in the past five years, compared to a statewide average of 2.8 percent job growth, according to the report. During that time, 10,700 jobs have been added in the county, said Ryan Horner, an industry and business analyst with the department.

"You've got people moving into the area and that is certainly helping job growth," Horner said.

Other counties have had higher rates of growth, Horner said. Job growth in Pike County was 26.4 percent, but it added just 2,400 job in five years, he said.

The champ for job growth was Forest County, which often has one of the highest jobless rates, Horner said. That county's 37.5 percent increase, which translates to 600 jobs, largely can be attributed to a federal prison being built in that sparsely populated area.

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Fulton County showed substantial growth during the same period, adding 900 jobs for an 18.4 percent increase, Horner said.

While more than 101,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Pennsylvania in the last five years, department figures show 1,500 were added in Franklin County. Manufacturing employment fell 13.3 percent statewide, while increasing 15.8 percent in the county, Horner said.

"There's a myriad of factors with that," Horner said of the statewide decrease. Those include outsourcing, retirements and higher productivity, the last of which allows greater production with fewer people, he said.

Franklin County was tied with neighboring Adams County for third in the state with a 3.1 percent jobless rate in May, according to the monthly report. Neighboring Cumberland County was first at 2.9 percent, followed by Chester County at 3 percent, Horner said.

The jobless rate was 2.8 percent in April, according to the report.

There were 76,900 people working in May, an increase of 600, according to the report. The number of unemployed also was higher, going up 200 to 2,400.

For the month, manufacturing added 100 jobs to reach 11,000; wholesale trade was up 200 to 2,300; retail jobs rose 100 to 7,000; educational and health services added 100 jobs to reach 8,800; leisure and hospitality was up 100 to 5,000; and local government employment rose 100 to 5,200. The only category to shrink was state government employment, which dipped by 100 to 1,100.

Fulton County's unemployment rate rose from 4 percent in April to 4.3 percent in May. The monthly report stated that the number of people working was unchanged at 7,900, but the number of unemployed rose by approximately 100 to 400.

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