2009-04-30 / Front Page

Jobless Rate Shows Little Change Here

Ranking in state moves from #67 to #66 for March
By Jean Snyder STAFF WRITER

Fulton County's jobless rate showed little sign of recovery in March as the unemployment rate dropped only 1.2 percentage points from a final 16 percent rate in February. The county's March unemployment rate was 14.8 percent, according to preliminary figures released by the Department of Labor and Industry this week. The small gain in employment figures was enough to move the county from the highest rate in the state to the next to-highest rate. The county exchanged positions with Cameron County, according to the preliminary figures.

March's statistics, like those for January and February, 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 statistics. Fulton County's unemployment rates stayed at 20-25 percent for most of 1982 and 1983.

The seasonally adjusted data for Fulton County for March 2009 showed unemployment at 1,200, with a total labor force of 800 for the county. By comparison, the March 2008 unemployment rate for Fulton was only 6.5 percent.

Fulton County's current unemployment rates are markedly higher than both the state and national rates. Pennsylvania's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose three-tenths of a percentage point in March to 7.8 percent. The United States' rate rose four-tenths of a point to 8.5 percent. Pennsylvania's rate was up 2.9 percentage points from March 2008, while the U.S. rate was up 3.4 percentage points over the year.

Rankings for Fulton's neighboring counties include Franklin at number 25 with an unemployment rate of 8.1, up slightly from a rate of 8.0 percent in February. Franklin is tied for the number 25 slot with Beaver, Juniata and Lackawanna counties. Bedford's ranking remained at number 63 with an unemployment rate of 11.5, up slightly from 11.4 in February. Huntingdon County's rate went from 10.9 percent in February (and ranked 61) to 11.3 percent in March and ranked 63.

In March, Centre County posted the lowest unemployment rates in the state with 5.6 percent followed by Chester County with a rate of 6.0 percent.

Pennsylvania's seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs count fell by 30,500 in March. At 5,677,700, Pennsylvania's job total fell below 5.7 million for the first time since June 2005. Three sectors showed a decline of greater than 5,000 jobs in March - manufacturing was down 11,800; trade, transportation and utilities was down 6,600; and construction was down 5,200.

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