According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s Workforce Information News Release, The number of jobs in Wayne County increased by 100 in the last year. Unfortunately, so did the unemployment rate in the county.
“You have to remember to look at the numbers separately,” says Joe Merlina, Industry and Business Analyst for the Department of Labor and Industry. “Just because job are increasing doesn’t mean it’s people from the county who are filling them. Similarly, the rate of job increase may not match the rate of population increase.”
In the case of Wayne County, it looks like that is exactly what has occurred. The workforce which has grown by a hundred members in the last year, saw 100 fewer of its members working. That discrepancy calculated out to an unemployment rate of 4.7%, down a tenth of a point from last month but up by over half a point from the same time last year.
“You have to keep in mind, though, that anything under 5% is still considered full employment,” Merlina says. “It may be a little worse, but it’s still not bad.”
Merlina warns against drawing a trend based on comparing statistics month to month.
“The forces that shape an economy are seasonal, especially in (Wayne County),” he said. “The data from March, for example, will be effected by the fact that we had a very cold and wet month, which could have stalled progress on major construction projects.”
Far better, Merlina suggests, to look at trends over a year, and the increase in unemployment seen over the year in Wayne is consistent with the difficulties in the economy nationwide.
“It looks like (Wayne County) is taking a proactive stance on joblessness, though,” Merlina says. “The increase in jobs is noteworthy.”
Many of these gained jobs were in the fields of trade and professional business services.
“Around this time of year, stores are usually in a position to hire more help for the first time since the holidays,” says Merlina. “The weather is nicer, people want to be out shopping. And I understand Wayne County is a summer tourist destination, so your increase will probably be sharper.”
The Wayne Economic Development Corporation looks to continue these gains with their increased focus on preparing the workforce for the business services sector, utilizing the proposed Center for Workforce Development. For more information, see the story “WEDCO Plans Partnership for State-of-the-art Career Center,” available on wayneindependent.com.
A call to Mary Beth Wood, Executive Director of WEDCO, was not immediately returned.
It is unknown what, if any, effect on the economy in Wayne County the tax stimulus package will have. Merlina says due to their statistical processes, data on that will not be available until mid-June. The first tax stimulus checks were received last week.
“I think the economy is going to heal,” Merlina said.