Lancaster County’s unemployment rate fell to a 19-year low in February, as the number of jobs here hit a record high, the state reported Tuesday.
The county jobless rate was 2.9 percent, compared to January’s 3.0 percent, the state Department of Labor & Industry said.
(A month ago, the state said the January rate here was 2.9 percent. But that January figure has been revised.)
While the February rate here was stellar, two metropolitan areas in Pennsylvania fared better.
Gettysburg and State College tied for the best rate at 2.8 percent while East Stroudsburg had the worst at 4.6 percent.
Not only did Lancaster County outperform most of the state’s 18 metropolitan areas, as usual, it outshone the national and state rates, which also is the norm. Those rates were 3.8 percent and 4.0 percent respectively.
Lancaster County’s February rate is the lowest here since December 2000, according to department records. The last time the local rate was lower was July 2000, at 2.8 percent.
Though the local rate is only slightly better than a month earlier, the rate is sharply improved from a year earlier.
This February’s rate was the result of the county having 275,800 residents with work and 8,100 without but actively seeking jobs.
The number of residents who were unemployed but actively seeking work was down only 200 from January, but it was down 1,900 from February 2018, when the rate was 3.6 percent.
Pulling the jobless rate lower was job growth in several sectors.
Compared to a year earlier, construction jobs were up 600, warehousing (including e-commerce fulfillment centers), utilities and transportation were up 700, health care and social assistance were up 1,000, and food service and drinking places were up 900.
Though the new unemployment rate is a rarity in today’s economy, once upon a time it was normal.
From April 1998 through September 2000, a stretch of 30 straight months, Lancaster County’s unemployment rate was below 3.0 percent, according to the department.
The lowest unemployment rate in Lancaster County since 1976, when the state adopted the current methodology for calculating the rate, was 2.0 percent in November 1988.
The highest rate in that time was 9.2 percent in January 1983.