Lancaster County’s unemployment rate fell for the fifth straight month in September, dipping to 6.1% from August’s 8.0%, the state announced Tuesday.
The new rate shows that the pandemic’s impact on the local economy continues to wane from its April peak, which brought a jobless rate here of 15.2%, the worst since the Great Depression in the 1930s.
September’s decline was expected, as two early indicators – the weekly number of new claims for unemployment benefits filed by county residents and the weekly number of continued claims for those benefits – have tumbled significantly since the spring.
The indicators have kept receding during October as well, suggesting that when the October unemployment rate is announced Dec. 1, it too will show a marked improvement.
While the progress is encouraging, the jobless rate still sits notably higher than its pre-pandemic level.
For instance, a year earlier, the September 2019 rate was 3.6%, as 10,400 county residents were unemployed. This September, the 6.1% rate stemmed from 17,600 county residents being jobless, as several key economic sectors have been slow to recover.
For instance, restaurants and bars employed 2,000 fewer people in September than a year earlier, according to the state Department of Labor & Industry report. Health care and social assistance employed 1,700 fewer. Manufacturing was down 1,600. Transportation, warehousing, e-commerce centers and utilities were down 1,000. Retail trade was off 600.
But Lancaster County is not alone. The other 17 metropolitan areas in Pennsylvania are hurting too, enabling the county to retain its usual stature as an economic bright spot in the state, relatively speaking.
Among the metros, only State College (5.0%) and Gettysburg (5.4%) fared better in September. East Stroudsburg (10.1%) fared worst. The statewide rate was 8.1% and the national rate was 7.9%.