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Retail helps Franklin County jobless rate dip

January 03, 2008|By DON AINES

HARRISBURG, PA. - The retail sector remained strong, adding 200 jobs in November, as the unemployment rate in Franklin County edged downward from 3.1 percent to 3 percent, according to preliminary figures released today by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

Retail employment was 7,400 in November, up 500 from November 2006, a growth rate of 7.2 percent, the report states. Much of the growth has been driven by retail development in Chambersburg's North End, particularly at Chambersburg Crossing, where Target, Kohl's, Giant, Circuit City and other retailers have opened this year, Industry and Business Analyst Ryan Horner said.

The increase was seasonal as stores geared up for holiday business, Horner said. The number of people with retail jobs is at another all-time high, he said.

Also seasonal was a decrease of 100 in the number of construction jobs to 2,900, he said. Construction employment was 3,100 in November 2006, the report stated.

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"A little bit of weakness in housing could have figured into that," Horner said.

Still, the number of people working construction as winter approached was just 400 below the all-time high of 3,300 in July 2006, when new housing construction was still strong, he said.

Manufacturing jobs also were down by 100 for the month to 11,000, the same level as November 2006. All other sectors of the economy were stable, including total nonfarm employment, which remained at 59,500, according to the business survey portion of the report.

"It's growing, even in the areas that aren't performing so well nationally," Horner said of the county's economy.

The number of people working was up 500 for the month to 78,200, according to household survey numbers. The number of people listed as unemployed was unchanged at 2,400.

The lowest unemployment rate among Pennsylvania's 67 counties was 2.9 percent, in neighboring Adams County. The 3 percent rate tied Franklin with Chester County for second place, according to department figures.

Fulton County also saw a decrease in unemployment, which fell from 4.9 percent to 4.6 percent in November. The service sector added 200 jobs to 2,900, although overall employment was up by 100 jobs to 7,900.

The number of people unemployed was steady at 400, according to the department.

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