Meadville Tribune

Local News

May 1, 2013

Area jobless rate continues to slowly fall

MEADVILLE — Crawford County’s unemployment rate has dropped to 7.2 for March — part of a trend across Pennsylvania, according to a state labor analyst.

The county’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 7.2 percent is down 0.4 percentage points from the 7.6 percent rate of February, according to statistics released Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. The state reported 65 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties had decreases in their respective unemployment rates while one county, Fayette, was unchanged and Pike County had an increase.

Crawford County had 39,100 people employed in both March and February while the number of unemployed slipped by 100 from February to March, falling from 3,200 to 3,100.

Ismael Fertenbaugh, a state labor analyst, said while the drop is welcome, the rate is about where it was a year ago while the total numbers in the labor force are down.

“Discouraged workers may have dropped out, but we also may have some people voluntarily leaving the workforce,” Fertenbaugh said. “We think some of the drop may be people retiring, though we don’t have hard evidence of that.”

Fertenbaugh said unemployment is a lagging economic indicator based on a monthly survey of people. Those surveyed who say they are not looking for work or who say they are not employed are not counted as part of the labor force, he said.

The county’s total seasonally adjusted labor force for March was 42,200 with 39,100 employed and 3,100 unemployed. In February, the county’s total seasonally adjusted labor force was of 42,300, with 39,100 employed and 3,200 unemployed.

However, in March 2012, the county’s total seasonally adjusted labor force was 43,000 with 39,900 employed and 3,200 unemployed. (The numbers don’t total correctly due to rounding.)

Crawford County’s manufacturing employment gained 100 in March to 7,300 jobs, up from the 7,200 jobs recorded in February, January and December.

Crawford County has a higher dependence on manufacturing than other areas of the country. About 22 percent of all jobs in the county are in manufacturing, while the figure is only about 10 percent statewide and 11 percent nationally. Most Crawford County manufacturing jobs are related to the tooling and machining industry, with local firms supplying tools and parts to larger manufacturing plants.

The county added 100 more jobs in March in mining, logging and construction.

The county also had seasonal gains in the service sector of its economy with 23,700 jobs in March, up 500 from 23,200 in February. There were 100 more jobs each in trade and leisure and hospitality, and 300 in education and health services. Those changes may be due to rounding, Fertenbaugh said.

Crawford County’s rate of 7.2 percent for March was lower than Pennsylvania’s rate of 7.9 percent and the national rate of 7.6 percent for the month.

Unemployment rates in other counties of northwest Pennsylvania fell in March. The rates, listed March, then February, were: Erie, 7.7, 8.0; Mercer, 8.5, 8.6; Venango, 7.9, 8.3; and Warren, 6.3, 6.6.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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