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Franklin County jobless rate falls to 3.6%

May 29, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Higher temperatures led to lower unemployment in Franklin County in April as construction added 200 jobs for the month, according to preliminary figures released Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

Construction jobs hit 3,100 in April, the same figure as in April 2007, the report stated. Professional and business services, a category that includes companies that supply temporary workers, was also up 200 to 5,600 jobs, its highest level, the report stated.

The unemployment rate fell from 4.2 percent in March to 3.6 percent in April, as the number of people listed as unemployed dropped by 500 to 2,900, according to the report's household survey. In April 2007, the jobless rate was 3 percent with the number of jobless estimated at 2,300.

The number of people working rose 200 to 78,200 in April, which is up 1,800 from a year earlier, according to the report.

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The April numbers were good enough for the county to have the third-lowest unemployment rate among Pennsylvania's 67 counties.

"We are well-balanced," said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp. Defense, manufacturing, health care, logistics and agriculture give the county a broad economic base in a region benefiting from expansion out of the Harrisburg, Pa., and Baltimore-Washington areas.

"Things get made in Franklin County and that's not the norm in most parts of the country," Ross said. The survey of businesses showed manufacturing employment at 10,600, a number unchanged from a year ago.

The long-term threat to the economy, as it is everywhere else, is the cost of fuel, Ross said.

"Residential housing has slowed, but it's not dead," Ross said of construction. Even if housing falters further, institutional construction planned for or in progress in the Chambersburg, Waynesboro and Tuscarora schools districts, Summit Health and Letterkenny Army Depot bodes well for the future, he said.

Employment in leisure and hospitality was down 400 for the month to 4,900, a decrease the report tied to "an expected seasonal decrease in winter recreational industries." The number of jobs in that category was still up 6.3 percent from a year ago.

Fulton County saw its jobless rate decline from 7.4 percent in March to 5.9 percent in April, as the number of unemployed fell by 100 to 500 and the number with jobs rose by 100 to 7,600.

The April 2007 unemployment figure was 4.5 percent.

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