County jobless rate drops in Feb. BY TIM MEKEEL, Business Editor
Lancaster County's unemployment rate slipped to 6.8 percent in February, the state Department of Labor & Industry said Tuesday.
By declining slightly from January's 6.9 percent, the county's rate remained among the best in Pennsylvania.
Of the state's 14 metropolitan areas, only State College (6.0 percent) and Lebanon (6.7 percent) had better unemployment rates.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre had the worst, at 9.8 percent.
The county's rate also compared favorably to the statewide rate (8.1 percent) and the national rate (7.7 percent).
With the new figures, Lancaster County's jobless rate has stayed in the 6 percent range for 26 straight months.
That's well above its prerecession level in the 3 percent range.
"It's definitely going to take some doing to get back to that," said Bill Sholly, an analyst with Labor & Industry.
"Nothing that I'm seeing" suggests a quick improvement in the jobless rate is likely, he said.
To make a significant dent in the jobless rate, Sholly said, the county would need more newcomers such as Parsons Brinckerhoff.
Parsons Brinckerhoff is moving some shared corporate-services jobs here from New York City.
That's bringing about 200 jobs to the former D&E building on Oregon Pike near Schaum's Corner.
"We would need a good deal more of that to turn the tide," Sholly said.
The February jobless rate here resulted from the county having 18,500 people without work and 253,000 employed.
That was 400 fewer jobless people than in January, pushing the rate down.
However, the February jobless count was 1,600 more than a year earlier, when the local jobless rate was 6.4 percent.
While the local jobless rate has stagnated in the 6-percent range, the rates of other metros in Pennsylvania haven't dropped noticeably either.
That's allowed the county rate to keep its historical status as better than average.
Lancaster County's jobless rate has been second- or third-best among the state's metro areas for 24 straight months.
As the countywide jobless rate dipped in February, so did the rates for the county's three biggest municipalities.
East Hempfield Township's jobless rate dropped to 5.4 percent from January's 6.1 percent.
Lancaster city saw its jobless rate fall to 10.2 percent in February from 11.3 percent the month before.
The rate in Manheim Township went down to 6.4 percent in February from 7.1 percent in January.
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.
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