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Franklin, Fulton jobless rates went down in Sept.

October 29, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Despite a weakening national economy and local layoffs, the unemployment rates for both Franklin and Fulton counties were down in the preliminary reports released today by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

The jobless rate from Franklin County fell from 4.9 percent in August to 4.3 percent in September, according to department statistics. The number of people listed as unemployed fell by 600 to 3,600, while the number of people with jobs was down by 100 to 80,000.

In Fulton County, the jobless rate fell from 8.6 percent to 7.1 percent, the report stated. The number of people working fell by 200 to 7,400, but the number of unemployed also was down by 100 to 600, the report stated.

Some seasonal factors could be at work in the new numbers, along with the timing of the household survey, said Industry and Business Analyst Ryan Horner. The reduction in the number of unemployed could reflect people returning to jobs related to the reopening of schools - bus drivers, cafeteria workers, classroom aides and others who might have claimed unemployment benefits during the summer months.

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In Franklin County, the number of local government employees rose by 1,000 to 5,300 with the state adding another 100 jobs.

Both counties also showed a decrease in the total labor force, down 700 in Franklin County to 83,600 and down 300 in Fulton to 8,000. Many of the college and high school students who worked during the summer have returned to classes.

The survey always occurs in the week of each month during which the 12th falls, Horner said. The timing of the survey, therefore, might have missed some of the layoffs at JLG Industries in McConnellsburg, Pa., that happened after that date, he said.

The volatility of the numbers in Fulton County also reflects how small the labor market is, with relatively small changes in numbers and rounding of figures sometimes causing wide swings.

Over the past year, however, Fulton County went from 2,100 manufacturing jobs to 1,700, including the loss of 100 in the September survey. In Franklin County, manufacturing employed the same number of people as in September 2007 at 10,600.

Franklin County is tied with neighboring Cumberland County for the sixth lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania, but the 4.3 percent compares to 3.1 percent in September 2007. Fulton County now ranks near the bottom out of 67 counties, Horner said.

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