Jobless rate falls slightly in Lycoming County

Lycoming County’s jobless rate showed a slight decrease between February and March but remains above the state’s 7.9 figure, according to the state Department of Labor & Industry.

Overall, the county’s unemployment figure fell from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent during the period..

Steve Zellers, industry and business analyst with the Department of Labor, said the county’s jobless figure stood at 7.3 percent in March 2012.

The rise in unemployment can be explained in part, he said, by the increase in the number of people considered part of the civilian labor force, which includes those who do not have jobs.

“These could be more people moving to Lycoming County because of the Marcellus Shale, but who can’t find work,” he explained.

The natural gas industry remains in the midst of a slowdown that began last year, he said.

The first part of any year, he said, often reflects a downturn in many industries.

“March is stagnant,” he said. “Usually throughout the summer, construction jobs will pick up, as well as hospitality jobs.”

Lycoming County has a civilian labor force of 64,300 people, including 5,200 who are unemployed.

Surrounding counties also showed a slight dip in unemployment between February and March:

Bradford, the center of much of the state’s natural gas drilling activity, saw its jobless rate drop from 7.8 percent in February to 7.1 percent in March.

Clinton County fell from 8.9 percent to 8.1 percent during the same period.

Tioga County decreased from 8.9 percent to 8.3 percent.

“Hopefully, our good fortune holds. The national pundits are predicting a little better summer this year,” Zellers said. “Consumer spending has been up this past quarter.”

The nation’s jobless figure is 7.6 percent, according to Department of Labor figures.