New data released last month from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Lancaster County’s growth is outpacing that of the nation and the state. Numbers don’t lie.
Lancaster added almost 4,300 people to its labor force over the past year, growing 1.8 percent, faster than both the U.S. and PA which grew 1.5 percent and 1.1 percent respectively. Wages grew by $1,130, to a median (half make more, half make less) of $36,380, a healthy 3.2 percent, again well ahead of the U.S. and the state.
Compared to the markets that abut the county, Lancaster sits almost at the top for growth. Reading grew the fastest at 2.2 percent, York almost not at all, but their wage growth was the highest at 4.6 percent.
Lancaster ranks as the 96th largest market in the country, setting it within the top 25 percent by size.
Particular gains can be noted in the Life, Physical, and Social Science category which grew by 15 percent, followed by Farming, Fishing, and Forestry occupations at 13 percent. Both of those categories are fairly small overall. The largest additions were seen in Office and Administrative Support and Healthcare Practitioners and Technical occupations which added 720 and 560 new jobs respectively.
Perhaps the most dramatic change is within transportation jobs which must be viewed over a two-year period for the entire sector due to reporting factors. Since 2016 Lancaster has increased the number of positions by almost 3,450, a 16 percent increase.
Part of what has fueled growth in this sector is the addition of distribution centers and warehouses in the county. That’s evidenced by the one year increase in Shipping, Receiving, and Traffic Clerks with an employment gain of 44 percent. Packers and Packagers added 510 positions, growing 22 percent with a 5.6 percent wage gain.
While production occupations overall remained almost flat there are some standout gains in positions such as Foundry Mold, growing 225 percent and wages up nine percent, Painting Machine Operators up 86 percent and Crushing Machine Operators up 80 percent. These numbers point to the continued resurgence of manufacturing in our county.
A sampling of other jobs reveal where new positions are being added.
Construction managers grew by 22 percent, adding 130 new jobs. Registered Nurses added another 680 positions and increased their median salary by almost seven percent, $4,440, to nearly $69,000. Dieticians, Healthcare Social Workers, Surgical Technologists and Clinical Lab Technologists all grew by more than 20 percent. The list could go on.
That doesn’t mean that everything is roses. There are declining positions as well. In a nod to online shopping Retail Salespersons lost ground. Other occupations that lost jobs include Maids, Secretaries and Non-restaurant Food Servers as examples.
No one likes to see any job losses, but economies, industry sectors and positions evolve. A decline signals an opportunity for retraining and re-employment in a higher paying position in one of the many advancing areas of our economy. With Lancaster’s growth trend every single person in the labor force is valuable with a shortage of workers in numerous positions. In five short years the county has added over 23,500 to the employment rolls, double digit growth, and increased wages by 12 percent with no indication of a slow-down in sight.