2009-06-04 / Front Page

Jobless Rate Improves Slightly

Moves from #66 to #65 for April
By Jean Snyder STAFF WRITER

Fulton County's jobless rate showed a small sign of recovery in April as the unemployment rate dropped 2.7 percentage points from a final 15.8 percent rate in March. The county's April unemployment rate was 13.1 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 second highest rate in the state (#66) to the third highest rate #65). The county's rate was lower than Elk and Cameron counties (#'s 66 and 67, respectively, with rates of 13.4 and 16.4 percent). Fulton regularly changes positions with Cameron and Elk counties, both also small, rural counties with populations less than 20,000.

The gain in employment for the county is only a preliminary figure and is somewhat ques- tionable given the fact that layoffs continue at JLG, the county's number one employer. Although the numbers of those unemployed and of those in the workforce changed from March, the number of people actually employed remained unchanged (1,000) from March. Final April rates will be released at the end of June.

In spite of the small gains, April's, like those for all of 2009 to date, 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 April 2009 showed unemployment at 1,000, with a total labor force of 7,800 for the county. By comparison, the April 2008 unemployment rate for Fulton was only 6.4 percent.

Fulton County's current unemployment rates are markedly higher than both the state and national rates. Pennsylvania's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.8 percent for the second consecutive month. Prior to April, the state's unemployment rate had risen for 14 consecutive months. The United States' unemployment rate continued to rise, increasing fourtenths of a point to 8.9 percent in April. Pennsylvania's rate was up 2.8 percentage points from a year earlier, while the U.S. rate was up 3.9 percentage points over the year.

Rankings for Fulton's neighboring counties include Franklin still at number 25 with an unemployment rate of 8 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from March. Franklin is tied for the number 25 slot with Northampton County. Bedford's ranking rose to number 64 with an unemployment rate of 11.8 from number 61 with an unemployment rate of 11.5 in March. Huntingdon County's rate went from 11.1 percent in March (and ranked 60) to 10.8 percent in April but ranked 61.

In April, Centre County once again posted the lowest unemployment rate in the state with 5.7 percent, followed by Chester County with a rate of 6.1 percent.

Pennsylvania's seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs count fell by 17,300 jobs, the eighth consecutive month of overall job losses for the state. At 5,654,800, the Pennsylvania job total fell to its lowest level since August 2004. The April job loss was less than half the revised March decline of 36,100 jobs.

Pennsylvania jobs were down 161,900 since April 2008. Since January 2003, the state job count is up 29,100.

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