2009-03-12 / Front Page

County Jobless Rate Highest Since 1982

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

Fulton County's number of unemployed soared to its highest rate since April 1982 in January with an unemployment rate of 11.5 percent. According to preliminary figures released by the Department of Labor and Industry this week, unemployment was up by 1 percent over December's rate, a figure which keeps the county again in the next-to-highest unemployment position in the state. January's rate is up 1 percent over December's rate of 10.5 percent.

January's statistics mark the highest rate for Fulton County in 27 years when the April 1982 rate was 27.2 percent, according to Pa. Dept. of Labor and Industry analyst Justin Fleming. Although it may be hard to believe or to remember, Fulton County's unemployment rates stayed in the 20-25 percent for most of 1982 and 1983.

The seasonally adjusted data for Fulton County for January 2009 showed unemployment at 900, with a total labor force of 7,800 for the county. By comparison, the January 2008 unemployment rate for Fulton was only 6.5 percent.

Fulton County has the second highest unemployment rate in the state for January and is tied with Elk County for the position.

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. Pennsylvania's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose by sixtenths of a percentage point in January to 7.0 percent. The United States' rate rose fourtenths of a point in January to 7.6 percent. Since January 2008, Pennsylvania's rate was up 2.3 percentage points, while the U.S. rate was up 2.7 percentage points.

Rankings for Fulton's neighboring counties include Franklin at number 16 with an unemployment rate of 6.8, up from a rate of 6.0 percent in December and a ranking of number 11. Bedford's ranking went from number 62 in December with an unemployment rate of 9.4 percent to number 63 in January with a 10.2 rate. Huntingdon County's rate went from 8.9 percent in December (and ranked 58) to 10 percent in January, and ranked 62.

In January, Centre and Chester counties were tied for the lowest unemployment rates in the state with 5.3 percent. Cameron County again posted the state's highest unemployment rate in January at 14.9 percent, up from 13.6 percent in December.

Pennsylvania's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose by six-tenths of a percentage point in January to 7.0 percent. The United States' rate rose four-tenths of a point in January to 7.6 percent. Since January 2008, Pennsylvania's rate was up 2.3 percentage points, while the U.S. rate was up 2.7 percentage points.

Pennsylvania's seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs count fell by 3,500 in January to 5,745,700. The mild January drop can be attributed to the higher job losses that occurred in November and December of 2008 combined with less hiring in retail trade and educational services. With fewer jobs in those sectors, the seasonal layoffs normally experienced in January were lower than in past years. Manufacturing and construction accounted for most of January's decline with 5,100 and 2,800 jobs lost, respectively.

Since January 2003, employers in the state have added 120,000 new jobs.

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