2009-01-08 / Local & State

Jobless Rate Still High In County

In November, ranked 66th out of 67 counties

Fulton County's unemployment rate dropped only twotenths of a percentage point in November, going from 10.5 percent in October to 10.2 percent in November, according to preliminary figures released by the Department of Labor and Industry last week. As a result of the 10.2 percentage rate, Fulton County now has the second highest unemployment rate in the state. The county had the state's highest unemployment rate in October. The seasonally adjusted data for Fulton County showed unemployment at 800, with a total labor force of 8,000 for the county in November. By comparison, the November 2007 unemployment rate for Fulton was only 5.6 percent.

Last month, Fulton County ranked in the number 67 position in the state, but in August Fulton County also had the highest employment rate in the state at 9.2 percent, according to final figures for that month.

Although it seldom happens, August and October of this year are not the first times that Fulton has ranked 67th in unemployment. In August of 1982, Fulton County's unemployment rate was at 25.7 percent, the highest in the state. According to Pa. Dept. of Labor and Industry statistics, the last time Fulton County's rate was higher than 10.5 percent was in August 1997, when it was 19.7 percent.

Preliminary data often differs from the final rate because, according to an L&I spokesperson, "there can be an upward or downward revision for the final rate because 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." Generally, when there is a revision, it is an upward revision.

The recent increases in unemployment statistics for the county reflect recent layoffs at JLG, and it is likely that any future layoffs in county industries will impact unemployment further. 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 7 with an unemployment rate of 5.2, up from a rate of 5 percent in October and a ranking of number 9. Bedford's ranking went from number 64 in October with an unemployment rate of 8.4 percent to number 63 in November, but with an 8.5 rate. It is tied in that spot with Huntingdon County where the unemployment ranking rose from 55 in October and a rate of 7.2 percent to 63 in November with a jobless rate of 8.5 percent.

In November, Chester County again posted the lowest unemployment rates in the state with a rate of 4.8 percent, but up from 4.4 percent in October. Chester tied with Lebanon County for the number one spot. Cameron County posted the state's highest unemployment rate in November at 11.1 percent.

Pennsylvania's seasonally adjusted civilian labor force - the number of people working or looking for work - fell to 6,414,000 in November. Resident employment fell by 55,000 for the month, while unemployment was up 22,000. The labor force was up 128,000 since November 2007.

Pennsylvania's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose three-tenths of a percentage point in November to 6.1 percent. The United States' rate rose two-tenths of a point to 6.7 percent. Since November 2007, Pennsylvania's rate was up 1.7 percentage points, while the U.S. rate was up 2.0 percentage points.

Pennsylvania's seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs count fell by 26,000 in November to 5,760,400. The drop was the largest one-month decline since January 1996. Supersectors showing the biggest November losses were trade, transportation and utilities (-7,300), professional and business services (- 6,300) and manufacturing (- 5,500). Industry sectors most affected were retail trade, employment services and durable goods manufacturers. Education and health services showed a gain of 2,400 jobs in November.

Since November 2007, Pennsylvania's job total was down 0.7 percent, roughly half the drop seen nationally over the past 12 months. Since January 2003, the state has added 134,700 jobs.

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