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Franklin, Fulton jobless rates rise

December 03, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Led by a reduction in manufacturing jobs linked to layoffs at JLG Industries, the unemployment rate in Fulton County rose sharply in October to 9.6 percent from 7.9 percent, while the rate in Franklin County rose by 0.1 percent to 4.6 percent, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

Based on the seasonally adjusted rate of 10.2 percent, Fulton County had the highest jobless rate among Pennsylvania's 67 counties, the report stated. Year over year, Franklin County's jobless rate increase to 4.6 percent from 3.1 percent.

From October of 2007, the number of people working in manufacturing and other goods-producing jobs in Fulton County decreased from 2,100 to 1,600, including a drop of 100 for October. JLG, the county's largest employer, began a series of work force reductions in the summer due to declining demand for construction equipment.

Recently, the company announced more layoffs for January 2009, which will affect another 146 workers at the McConnellsburg, Pa., plant, as well as its facilities outside Fulton County in Shippensburg, Pa., and Bedford, Pa., a department spokesman said in November.

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In October 2007, the jobless rate in Fulton County was 5.3 percent, but as recently as August the rate had been 8.6 percent, according to department figures.

The number of people working in Fulton County fell by 200 to 7,200, according to the household survey, with a matching increase in the number of jobless, which went from 600 to 800.

Franklin County is "somewhat of an anomaly" with manufacturers such as Grove Manitowoc in Shady Grove, Pa., remaining strong and Volvo Construction Equipment in Shippensburg, Pa., holdings its own, Franklin County Area Development Corp. President L. Michael Ross said.

"Our logistics centers continue to be strong, and Letterkenny Army Depot continues to be a driver" for job creation, Ross said.

"The diversity and diversification of our economy is its strength," Ross said.

Construction jobs fell by 100 to 3,000, due to a seasonal drop in construction, according to the survey of businesses. Manufacturing jobs held at 10,600, the same number as in October 2007, said Ryan Horner, an Industry and Business analyst with the department.

While production employment in the county was unchanged for the year, it declined 3.1 percent statewide, a loss of 29,000 jobs, Horner said.

Non-farm jobs in Franklin County rose by 200 in October, matching the record 6,100 set in June. Job growth was 2.3 percent for the year and the service sector was up 300 to a record 47,400, Horner said.

Wholesale employment fell slightly, while professional and business services, educational and health services, and local government all recorded slight increases, the report stated.

"Retailers seem to be playing a bit conservatively this year," Horner said. Typically, retail businesses begin gearing up for the holidays in October, but appear to be hiring fewer people this season, he said. Retail jobs in Franklin County were flat at 7,400.

The overall employment figure for Franklin County was down 300 to 79,600, according to the department's household survey. The number of unemployed grew by 100 to 3,800, up from 2,500 in October 2007.

Franklin County was tied with Cumberland and Montgomery counties for the sixth-lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania. Chester had the lowest seasonally adjusted jobless rate at 4.4 percent.

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