Wayne County continues to outperform the region in terms of employment.


Wayne County continues to outperform the region in terms of employment.
The county posted a 7.4 percent unemployment rate in March, beating the East Stroudsburg and Scranton / Wilkes-Barre areas which are both nearing 9 percent.
At 7.4 percent, the county has an estimated 1,900 people without work, according to a state Department of Labor and Industry report released on Tuesday. This is three-tenths of a percentage point lower than the state-adjusted rate for February.
This is well above where the county stood exactly one year ago, however, when the unemployment rate was 4.7 percent near the onset of the U.S. recession. And economists still believe Pennsylvania’s labor market as a whole has not reached the end of job shedding.
Pike County had a rate of 8.7 percent, and Susquehanna County, 8.0 percent, in March.
“The short answer to the question - this is not stabilization,” said Mark Price, Ph.D., a labor economist with Keystone Research Center, a Harrisburg-based think tank. “It’s looking like April’s unemployment report will be another movement up. The hope is that it will slow at the end of the summer.”
For March, the state unemployment rate was 7.8 percent, up from 4.9 percent in March 2008.
Another clear signal of the eroding labor market is a rise in the number of people who are filing for unemployment benefits, a trend that is persisting month over month in 2009, he noted.
There are 61 percent more unemployment claims in the state this time of year, compared to last year, according to labor department figures.
“It’s at a very disturbingly high pace,” said Price.
Local labor markets, however, could stabilize earlier than the predicted end of the U.S. recession in 2010.