2009-04-02 / Front Page

County Jobless Rate Soars To 15.1 Percent

Moves ranking in state to #67 for Februar y

Fulton County's number of unemployed climbed precipitously in February, soaring to 15.1 percent, which is, once again, the highest rate since April 1982. The county's jobless rate increased by 3.6 percentage points in February, going from 11.5 percent in January, according to preliminary figures released by the Department of Labor and Industry this week. The sharp climb moved the county from the nextto highest rate in the state to the highest rate or the 67th position among 67 counties, and signaled that massive layoffs at JLG Industries and other area employers are now at least close to being fully reflected in the unemployment figures.

February's statistics, like those for January, mark the highest rate for Fulton County in 27 years when the April 1982 rate was 27.2 percent, according to state Department of Labor and Industry statistics. 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 February 2009 showed unemployment at 1,200, with a total labor force of 8,100 for the county. By comparison, the February 2008 unemployment rate for Fulton was only 6.2 percent.

Fulton County now has the highest unemployment rate in the state.

Fulton County's current unemployment rates are markedly than both the state and national rates. Pennsylvania's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose by one-half of a percentage point in February to 7.5 percent. The United States' rate also rose one-half of a point in February to 8.1 percent. Pennsylvania's rate was up 2.7 percentage points from February 2008, while the U.S. rate was up 3.3 percentage points over the year.

Rankings for Fulton's neighboring counties include Franklin at number 25 with an unemployment rate of 7.6, up from a rate of 6.7 percent in January and a ranking of number 16. Bedford's ranking remained at number 63 (and tied with Potter County), but its unemployment rate climbed from 10 percent in January to 11.3 percent in February. Huntingdon County's rate went from 9.7 percent in January (and ranked 60) to 11.2 percent in February and ranked 62.

In February, Centre County posted the lowest unemployment rates in the state with 5.5 percent, followed by Chester County with a rate of 5.8 percent.

Pennsylvania's seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs count fell by 41,000 in February, the largest single-month job loss for the state in 13 years. With the exception of an increase of 200 jobs in the mining and logging sector, every sector saw no gain or posted losses. In addition, some seasonal layoffs that generally occur in January may have instead been delayed until February, particularly in industries such as construction, education, and leisure and hospitality. Since January 2003, the state has added 74,800 jobs.

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