2009-02-05 / Local & State

County Jobless Rate Remains High

Still ranked 66th out of 67 counties in December
By Jean Snyder STAFF WRITER

Fulton County's unemployment rate remained steady in December at 10.5 percent, which is the same as final rates for November. According to preliminary figures released by the Department of Labor and Industry this week, unemployment was unchanged for December, a figure which keeps the county in the next-to-highest unemployment position in the state.

The seasonally adjusted data for Fulton County showed unemployment at 800, with a total labor force of 8,000 for the county in December. By comparison, the December 2007 unemployment rate for Fulton was only 6.6 percent.

Although Fulton County ranked in the number 67 position in the state for the past two months, in October Fulton County had the highest employment rate in the state.

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 continued layoffs at JLG, and it is also likely that 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 9 with an unemployment rate of 5.9, up from a rate of 5.3 percent in November and a ranking of number 8. Bedford's ranking went from number 63 in November with an unemployment rate of 8.5 percent to number 64 in December with a 9.4 rate. Huntingdon County's rate went from 8.4 percent in November (and ranked 62) to 9 percent in December, but still ranked 62.

In December, Centre, Chester and Lebanon counties were all tied for the lowest unemployment rates in the state with 5.1 percent. Cameron County again posted the state's highest unemployment rate in December at 12.5 percent, up from 11 percent in November.

Pennsylvania's seasonally adjusted civilian labor force - the number of people working or looking for work - rose to 6,442,000 in December, up 23,000 from November. Resident employment fell by 15,000 for the month, while unemployment rose 39,000 persons. The labor force was up 152,000 since December 2007.

Pennsylvania's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose by half a percentage point in December to 6.7 percent. The United States' rate rose four-tenths of a point in December to 7.2 percent. Since December 2007, the Pennsylvania and U.S. rates were up 2.3 percentage points.

Pennsylvania's seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs count fell by 27,100 in December to 5,732,100. The December decline was almost identical to the revised November loss of 27,200 jobs. Jobs in the education and health-services sector rose 1,500, setting a record-high job count in December. Professional and business services (- 10,900), manufacturing (-7,500), and trade, transportation and utilities (-5,500) showed the largest declines.

Since December 2007 (the official start of the national recession), Pennsylvania jobs were down 76,200 - the biggest 12- month drop since October 1990 to October 1991. However, Pennsylvania's over-the-year decline in jobs (1.3 percent) remained below the U.S. job loss (1.9 percent). Since January 2003, the state has added 106,400 new jobs.

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