Franklin Co. loses 1,900 manufacturing jobs in one year

Numbers represent 20.7 percent decrease compared to 8.2 percent drop statewide

April 06, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH

FRANKLIN COUNTY, PA. -- Franklin County, Pa., lost one in five manufacturing jobs in the past year.

The county lost 1,900 manufacturing jobs from February 2009 to February 2010. That represents a 20.7 percent decrease, compared to an 8.2 percent drop statewide in the same time period, according to the latest data from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

"I think we've bottomed out. I think it's going to get progressively better over the course of 2010," said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp.

The county's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.1 percent in February, the labor department's news release states. That is one-half of a percentage point higher than January.

In neighboring Fulton County, February's rate was 13.7 percent, compared to 13.3 percent in January.

Franklin County ranked 26th and Fulton County ranked 66th for the lowest unemployment rate among Pennsylvania's 67 counties.


Analysis from the labor department stated Franklin County lost manufacturing jobs for the third consecutive month.

Ross blamed the global recession on manufacturers shedding jobs in Franklin County.

"Although we're starting to see signs of recovery, it's not starting to tick back (in local manufacturing) yet," Ross said.

The major manufacturers such as Manitowoc, Jerr-Dan, JLG, Volvo and Johnson Controls suffered the effects of the economy, which in turn hurt other companies on their supply chains, according to Ross. Some of those suppliers saw a 70 percent decrease in workload, he said.

"Will we ever get back to where we were? From a production standpoint, yes. From an employment standpoint, I'm not so sure," Ross said.

Technology makes some manufacturing jobs obsolete, he said.

"I think the days when manufacturing was the huge employer it was, I think those days are behind us," Ross said.

He predicted a shift will occur in the next year to 18 months, saying employers will again be actively searching for quality employees, instead of laying off people.

"There are new manufacturing start-ups in Franklin County, and a significant expansion under construction at Volvo in Shippensburg. Manufacturing companies appreciate the strong work ethic of Franklin County employees," said David Keller, chairman of the Franklin County Commissioners.

Franklin County provides a good environment for manufacturers, and the area is geographically positioned to continue to grow, Ross said.

"The decline in employment in the manufacturing sector is temporary, and the commissioners are confident that Franklin County manufacturing employment will recover with the economy," Keller said.

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