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Franklin Co.'s jobless picture does not mirror the state's

July 31, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Manufacturing and construction employment were up in June, but service sector jobs decreased as schools let out for the summer, causing a slight increase in Franklin County's unemployment rate.

The jobless rate increased from 3.1 percent to 3.2 percent, according to the preliminary report issued today by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. The household survey showed the number of people working increased by 1,100 from May to 78,000 in June, but the increase in the labor force was 1,400 to 80,600, while the number of people listed as unemployed rose by 200 to 2,600.

Franklin was tied with four other counties - three of them in Southcentral Pennsylvania - for the third-lowest unemployment rate in the state. Chester County and neighboring Cumberland County were tied for first.

The survey of businesses showed an increase of 100 jobs in construction to 3,100, which was down from 3,200 in June 2006. That reflects a cooler home-building market from a year ago, said Ryan Horner, an industry and business analyst with the department.

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Manufacturers also added 100 jobs in the month, hitting 11,100. That is the same level at June 2006, Horner said.

Manufacturing in the county has been going in the opposite direction of the rest of Pennsylvania, growing by 1,400 or 14.4 percent over the past five years, Horner said. Statewide, manufacturing employment fell by 13.2 percent, or 101,100 jobs, during the same period, he said.

"The loss has not been as sharp in the last year or two," Horner said of manufacturing jobs in the state. The big losses came in the recession a few years ago, he said.

The Grove-Manitowoc Crane Group in Shady Grove, Pa., JLG Industries in McConnellsburg, Pa., Frick Co. in Waynesboro, Pa., their suppliers and other companies that export might be benefiting from a weak dollar that makes their products more competitive overseas, said Franklin County Area Development Corp. President L. Michael Ross. Some of those companies also have been aggressively advertising for workers, he said.

In Fulton County, where JLG is the largest employer, manufacturing has added 600 jobs in five years, a 33 percent increase, Horner said. Manufacturing jobs in that county, however, were down 100 to 2,400, according to the monthly report.

Fulton County's jobless rate increased from 4.3 percent to 4.4 percent, although the number of people working was up by 100 to 8,000 and the number of unemployed remained steady at 400, the report states.

With schools out, local government employment dropped by 500 to 4,700 in Franklin County, the report states. Most other categories showed little or no change.

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