Crawford County’s seasonal unemployment rate broke through 8 percent in February, rising to 8.2 percent for the month, according to the latest statistics released by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

February's rate of 8.2 percent is up 0.4 percentage points from January's rate of 7.8 percent.

The initial report on January 2021 unemployment, released last month, had the rate at 7.9 percent, but January has been adjusted downward due to additional data, according to Lauren Riegel, a state labor analyst.

The last time Crawford County's unemployment rate was above 8 percent was in late summer and early fall of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, Riegel said. The county's unemployment rate was 9.9 percent in August followed by 8.1 percent in September before slipping to 6.7 percent in October.

Crawford's unemployment rate of 8.2 percent for February puts it in a six-way tie for 45th lowest out of 67 counties in Pennsylvania. Crawford is tied with Clearfield, Elk, Indiana, Schuylkill and Washington counties.

The unemployment rate is based on the county’s total labor force — the number of people who live in a county and are in the workforce either employed or unemployed, but they may work in another county. 

Crawford County saw growth in its total labor force in February as it increased by 300.

The county’s total labor force in February was 38,400, with 35,300 employed and 3,100 unemployed, compared to January when it was was 38,100, with 35,100 employed and 3,000 unemployed.

With the number of both employed and unemployed rising in the month, it's a sign of more people entering the workforce, Riegel said. 

The number of jobs based within Crawford County grew by 200 in February, rising to 29,000, up from January's 28,800, according to the state.

Only two job sectors saw increases in employment while the others remained unchanged.

The number of jobs in education and health services increased by 100 to 7,000 in February, up from 6,900 in January; and local government by 100 to 2,800 in February, up from January's mark of 2,700.

"Those increases are a sign of local schools and colleges returning from winter break," Riegel said.

Manufacturing jobs in Crawford County continued to hold steady in February at 6,900, though it is down from the 7,200 manufacturing jobs in February 2020, which was prior to the pandemic impacting the economy.

Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates in three of the four adjoining counties rose in February with only Warren County showing a slight decrease.

The rates for the other counties, listed February, then January, were: Erie, 8.8 percent, 8.6 percent; Mercer, 8.7, 8.6; Venango, 8.4, 8.0; and Warren, 7.5, 7.8.

For Pennsylvania, the unemployment rate was 7.3 percent in February, unchanged from January. The national unemployment rate was 6.2 in February, down from 6.3 percent in January. 

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

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