By Keith Gushard

Meadville Tribune

Crawford County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell in November, but a state labor market analyst said there was no one large contributing factor and the change may have been due to the state’s seasonality formula.

The county’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for November is 4.6 percent, down from 5.1 percent in October, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

The state adjusts for seasonality to be able to compare employment numbers to any month of the year.

Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique Pennsylvania began using several years ago to eliminate the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events.

“It adjusts for known month-to-month increases and decreases in the work force,” said John Long, a state labor analyst. “For example, every May and June, teachers leave the work force, we adjust for that.”

Long said any trends above or below the normal patterns are still accounted for and easier to spot.

Crawford County did have some small gains in employment, according to Lauren Nimal, a state labor analyst who covers the county.

Manufacturing did show an improvement of 100 jobs, but that may have been due to rounding, Nimal said.

The county had 7,700 manufacturing jobs in November, compared to 7,600 in October.

Crawford County has a heavier reliance on manufacturing than in other parts of Pennsylvania and the country. More than 20 percent of the jobs in the county are related to manufacturing, compared to about 12 percent for the state and 11 percent nationally.

One factor is growth in temporary jobs during the Christmas holiday season, but the increase wasn’t enough to produce a net change in employment, Nimal said.

Jim Kennedy, manager at the Wal-Mart Supercenter, hired about a dozen workers this holiday season to the store’s work force of around 450 full- and part-time employees.

“About half of them will stay on,” he said of the seasonal hires. “Some just want seasonal work to pay for their Christmas.”

The county’s seasonally adjusted total labor force was at 41,500 in November, with 39,600 employed and 1,900 unemployed. For October, the total labor force was 41,400, with 39,300 employed and 2,100 unemployed.

“When we adjusted for seasonality, employment went up and unemployment went down,” Nimal said. “We did not see much happen in the non-adjusted numbers.”

Both the non-adjusted employment and unemployment numbers were unchanged from October to November.

Crawford County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 4.6 percent for November is higher than Pennsylvania’s rate of 4.2 percent, but slightly lower than the national rate of 4.7 percent.

The unemployment rates for 12 other counties in northwestern Pennsylvania all showed improvement as each had lower rates in November.

The rates for the other counties, listed November, then October were: Cameron, 5.1, 6.3; Clarion, 4.7, 5.3; Elk, 4.3, 5.0; Erie, 4.5, 5.2; Forest, 5.5, 7.0; Jefferson, 4.3, 5.2; Lawrence, 5.0, 5.5; McKean, 4.3, 5.1; Mercer, 5.2, 5.6; Potter, 5.8, 6.9; Venango, 4.7, 5.3; and Warren, 4.3, 5.1.



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

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