2008-10-30 / Front Page

County's Jobless Stats Drop Slightly

Improves in Sept. but actual August UE rates higher than reported

Fulton County's unemployment rate dropped by 1.5 percentage points in September, going from 9.2 percent in August to 7.7 percent in September, according to preliminary figures released by the Department of Labor and Industry last week. The seasonally adjusted data for Fulton County showed unemployment at 600, with a total labor force of 8,000 for the county in September. By comparison, the September 2007, unemployment rate for Fulton was only 5.7 percent.

Last month, it was reported that Fulton's unemployment rate for August was 8.5 percent. Because the Dept. of Labor and Industry (L&I) reports preliminary figures, actual unemployment rates are subject to change. According to this month's report, August's rate was actually much higher at 9.2 percent. That rate also put Fulton County in the number 67 position in the state for August, meaning that the county experienced the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania.

According to an L&I spokesperson, "there was an upward revision for the final rate in Fulton County in August. As more data is collected, rates are subject to change. Border counties can be particularly affected since there may be a delay in getting claims data from surrounding states."

Walt Nichols, L&I analyst, said, "For most months, there is an adjustment once all data has been received." He also said that, more often than not, once all data has been received, the rate will go up rather than down. The border counties (with other states) are more affected by this than the interior counties," he added.

The county, with the decrease in unemployment for September, has moved in rankings from number 67 (out of 67 counties) to number 65. Only Forest and Cameron counties posted higher unemployment rates for September. The recent increases in unemployment statistics for the county reflects recent layoffs at JLG, and it is likely that future layoffs in county industries will impact unemployment further during the winter months. Fulton County's current unemployment rates are markedly higher than both the state and national rates.

Rankings for Fulton's neighboring counties include Franklin at number 6 with an unemployment rate of 4.6, down from a rate of 5 percent in August and a ranking of number 8. Franklin is tied for the spot with Cumberland County. Bedford's ranking dropped from number 64 in August with an unemployment rate of 8 percent to number 57 in September with a 6.8 rate. It is tied with Mifflin County. Huntingdon County's unemployment ranking rose from 50 in August and a rate of 7 percent to 59 in September, but with a slightly lower monthly jobless rate of 6.9 percent. It is tied with Clearfield and Northumberland counties.

In September, Chester County again posted the lowest unemployment rates in the state with a rate of 4.3 percent, but down from 4.5 in August. Adams, Lancaster and Lebanon counties all tied for the number two spot again in September. Cameron County posted the state's highest unemployment rate in September at 8.8 percent.

Pennsylvania's seasonally adjusted civilian labor force - the number of people working or looking for work rose to 6,444,000 in September, an increase of 41,000 from August. Resident employment rose by 46,000 from August, while unemployment was down by 5,000 residents over the month. The labor force was up 160,000 since September 2007, with both employment and unemployment up over the year.

Pennsylvania's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.7 percent in September, down one-tenth of a percentage point from August. The United States' rate was unchanged at 6.1 percent. September marks the fifth consecutive month that the state's unemployment rate has been below the national rate. Over the year, Pennsylvania's rate was up 1.3 percentage points, while the U.S. rate was up 1.4 percentage points.

Pennsylvania's seasonally adjusted nonfarm job count fell by 12,200 in September to 5,789,400. Only the information sector showed employment growth, adding 600 jobs in September. Nationally, jobs were down 159,000 in September.

Since September 2007, the Pennsylvania jobs total was down 6,700. Since January 2003, the state has added 163,700 jobs.

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