Jim Hook, Updated 12:28 p.m. ET May 1, 2018
CHAMBERSBURG — Franklin County’s unemployment is at its lowest level since before the Great Recession.
The county’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March was 3.8 percent, the lowest the rate since 3.7 percent in April 2008, according to data released Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.
“We are at full employment now,” said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp. “The availability of labor is impacting companies’ opportunities for expansion. The economy has been vibrant over the past year.”
The county’s joblessness rate spiked during the Recession and peaked above 9 percent in early 2010. The rate has steadily declined since. In March 2017, the county’s unemployment rate was 4.6 percent.
The nation’s 18-month Recession began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009, according to the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research.
Five of the county’s seven “supersectors” — manufacturing, trade, professional services, health services and hospitality — added jobs during the past year. Two were the biggest movers: Trade – which includes warehousing, transportation, and utilities – and hospitality both added 600 jobs. The number of jobs in two supersectors — construction and government — were unchanged over the year.
“As we grow, the two things I think we are most in need of are infrastructure and workers,” Ross said. “If Congress is successful in passing an infrastructure bill this year or next, we’re going to need construction workers of every trade. Infrastructure is the genesis of development. Without infrastructure, the other doesn’t happen.”
The counties in the Cumberland Valley from Harrisburg to Winchester, Va., are at full employment, Ross said. Industries like the location and continue to look for sites in the region.
“The reality is: It’s a numbers issue,” he said. “That’s something we need to be aware of. It’s not solely about people being trained. We simply don’t have enough people available for the job openings.”
That means changing public policy to transition more people into the workplace, he said.
“I think you get into welfare reform,” Ross said. “I think looking at ways we can reform the immigration system is absolutely necessary. We are a microcosm of what is going on nationally.”
Franklin County’s total non-farm jobs, seasonally adjusted, was a record high 61,300. Over the year, jobs increased by 1,800, or 3 percent. Jobs grew statewide by 1.4 percent.
Pa CareerLink on Tuesday listed 777 jobs available in Franklin County.
The March seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for Pennsylvania and the nation were both unchanged over the month at 4.8 and 4.1 percent, respectively. March was the tenth consecutive month that Pennsylvania’s rate was at 4.8 percent.
Franklin County was tied with Lebanon and Susquehanna counties for the 10th lowest unemployment rate among Pennsylvania’s 67 counties in March. Unemployment rates and rankings of neighboring counties were: Fulton (4.3 percent, tied 24th); Huntingdon (5.5 percent, t-59th); Juniata (4.2 percent, t-21st); Perry (3.6 percent, t-seventh ); Cumberland (3.5 percent, t-fifth); and Adams (3.3 percent, t-first). Unemployment rates across Pennsylvania ranged from 3.3 percent in Adams, Centre, Chester, and Lancaster counties to 6.5 percent in Forest County