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Franklin Co. jobless rate inches up

September 29, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- The unemployment rates in Franklin and Fulton counties changed slightly in August, bringing the neighboring counties' rates closer together.

The latest data from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry places Franklin County's rate at 8.8 percent and Fulton County's rate at 14.9 percent. In July, their rates were 8.3 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

Franklin County lost another 200 manufacturing jobs in August, lowering the number of positions to 8,900. Labor department analysts said that's the fewest number of positions since they started their method of classifying the industry in 1990.

"It's certainly not unique to Franklin County. Statewide, manufacturing is at its lowest level as well," said Ryan Horner, industry and business analyst.

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In the last year, Franklin County's manufacturing jobs fell by 13.6 percent, or 1,400 positions.

L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp., said his talks with major manufacturers like Volvo and Manitowoc (formerly Grove Worldwide) are enlightening.

"For the next several months, I think we're going to see a continuation, unfortunately, of higher unemployment rates than we're accustomed to and more job losses," Ross said.

However, company representatives perceive a "bottoming out" of the recession, Ross said. He predicted Franklin County's manufacturing rebound will start in 2010 and strengthen in 2011.

Layoffs could have been more numerous, but companies wanted to hold onto skilled laborers for the future, Ross said. Manufacturers, all of which have been affected by the economy, will be hesitant when increasing their labor force and making investments, he said.

"The good news is we still have a strong manufacturing base, which is needed to sustain our economy long-term," he said.

Fulton County gained 200 manufacturing jobs from July to August, according to labor department data. However, the county's 1,400 positions are still a drastic cut from the 2,200 jobs in August 2008.

Franklin County tied with Snyder County, which is around Selinsgrove, Pa., for the 26th-lowest unemployment rate among the state's 67 counties. Fulton County ranked 66th.

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