Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Jobless rate rises; more are working Unemployment here back up to 6.7 percent
BY TIM MEKEEL, Business Editor
Lancaster County has thousands more people working than a year ago.
Sadly, it also has hundreds more people looking for work without success.
That's pretty much why the unemployment rate here has been spinning its wheels.
Lancaster County's jobless rate rose to 6.7 percent in December, the state said Monday.
That's a slight increase from November's 6.6 percent, but identical to December 2011's 6.7 percent.
"We had more people working, but we had more people looking for work, too," analyst Bill Sholly said.
"When you have growth on both sides, it can be a wash or pull up the rate slightly," he said.
Which is exactly what happened.
The number of people working in Lancaster County in December hit 255,000.
That's up 6,800 from a year earlier.
However, the number of people unemployed in Lancaster County last month climbed as well, to 18,300.
That's 400 more than a year earlier -- enough to offset the progress made on the other side of the equation.
(To be counted as unemployed, a person must be actively seeking work, also known as "in the labor force.")
Sholly, of the state Department of Labor & Industry, said the new members of the labor force come from various circumstances.
Some had been laid off. Some were staying home because of health issues or to take care of children. Some were in school.
"There were a lot of people who dropped out (of the labor force) for one reason or another," Sholly said.
Despite December's uptick, the local rate tied with Lebanon's for second-best among the state's 14 metropolitan areas.
The Lancaster County rate has been tied for second-best or third-best every month since February 2011.
State College, at 5.7 percent, had the lowest unemployment rate among Pennsylvania's metro areas in December.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre had the highest rate, at 9.5 percent.
Taking a closer look at the state report, the three largest municipalities here all posted higher jobless rates in December as well.
East Hempfield Township saw its jobless rate grow to 5.2 percent from November's 4.9 percent.
In Lancaster city, the unemployment rate increased to 9.9 percent from 9.3 percent in November.
Manheim Township's rate was 6.4 percent, up from 5.9 percent the prior month.
The municipal rates are not adjusted for seasonal events, such as the expansion of the retail sector in December and its retreat in January.
The countywide rate is seasonally adjusted for such swings.