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Jobless rate holds steady in Franklin Co.

August 29, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Unemployment was unchanged at 4.3 percent in Franklin County for July and the jobless rate fell in Fulton County, although that number did not reflect JLG Industries layoffs that began in August, according to preliminary figures released Monday by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

The number of people working in Franklin County fell by 600 to 79,900, mostly the result of a fall in local and state government employment, led by school district and college personnel idled by summer vacations, said Ryan Horner, an industry and business analyst with the department.

Local government jobs fell from 5,100 to 4,000, while state employment was off by 200 to 900, according to the report.

Transportation, warehousing and utilities fell by 100 to 4,800, with school bus drivers likely accounting for the decline, Horner said. Professional and business services, which includes temporary staff companies, also showed a drop of 100 jobs to 5,500.

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The number of people listed as unemployed was unchanged from June at 3,600, according to the report.

The jobless rate was 3.6 percent in July 2007, according to the report.

"It's trending upward, no one would argue that," Horner said of the unemployment figures. "Whether it is close to peaking, or has a ways further to go, remains to be seen."

During the 2001 recession, unemployment in Franklin County peaked at 5.6 percent, Horner said. While the economy had slowed nationwide, it is not in an official recession, defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth in the gross domestic product.

Franklin County was tied for the third lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania with Adams and Lancaster counties.

In Fulton County, the jobless rate fell from 6.8 percent in June to 6.4 percent in July, according to department statistics. The number of people listed as unemployed fell from 600 to 500, while the number of people working was down by 200 to 7,700, reflecting the summer decline in local government jobs.

Unemployment figures for August, however, are likely to show a different picture. JLG, the county's largest employer, began layoffs on Aug. 1 that the department said eventually will affect about 250 workers at that plant.

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