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Lycoming County unemployment shows slow but hopeful recovery

Lycoming County employment data is edging closer and closer to where it was a year ago, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

According to a recent press release by the state, Lycoming County’s unemployment rate has continued a progressive recovery once more to 6.9% in the month of November–down from October’s 7.8% and September’s 8.3%.

According to data provided by the state, the county had a labor force of 52,300 in November–a short decrease from October’s 52,700–however, Zellers points out that’s a decrease of less than a tenth of a percent point.

Still, Williamsport is now only 1.5% away from sealing the unemployment gap created by the COVID-19 pandemic, signaling hope for coming months.

From February to April, Williamsport saw 11,700 workers lose their jobs. However, from May to November, the state recovered 5,800 jobs. That’s a recovery rate of 49.6%, according to Zellers–which means Williamsport is catching up to the state’s 57.7% recovery.

“Williamsport isn’t looking too bad,” Zellers said. “The good news is the jobs lost have shot back. They’re eventually going to come back–I have no clue as to when or how, but at least that’s in the near future.”

Additionally, Zellers celebrated the success of the retail industry in the Williamsport area. From October to November, retail jobs increased by 100, and over the course of 2020 up until November, they increased by 400.

“Not every area had that kind of growth,” Zellers said of the retail industry, which was demolished by the pandemic.

The Williamsport Metropolitan Statistical Area, which covers all of Lycoming County, currently ranks fourteenth out of the eighteen metropolitan areas in the state in terms of unemployment, while in October, it was reported to rank fifteenth.

The two best-performing MSAs are Gettysburg, which with a labor force of 54,900 touts a 4.3% unemployment rate, and State College, which has an unemployment rate of 4.5% for a labor force of 71,400.

However, it appears Pennsylvania is gaining traction in getting its workers back to work. The state’s unemployment rate, which was higher than the nation’s rate in October, dipped down to 6.6% in November, cutting ahead of the national rate which decreased from 6.9% to 6.7%.

Of a labor force of 6,333,000, there are currently 418,000 unemployed Pennsylvanians actively seeking work. Meanwhile, 10,735,000 unemployed Americans are looking to join the ranks of the country’s 149,732,000 workers.

Williamsport is only slightly behind the state unemployment rate of 6.6%, and the national unemployment rate of 6.7%. A month prior, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was 7.3%, while the national unemployment rate of 6.9%.

Zellers reminded readers that these numbers do not incorporate the recent statewide shutdown occurring over the winter holidays; the Department of Labor and Industry releases data a month after the month it concerns. The department is scheduled to publish its December workstats report Feb. 2.

Additionally, analysts such as Zellers prefer to discuss unemployment using seasonally adjusted numbers instead of actual reported data. Seasonally adjusted data levels out seasonal dips and raises to allow the state to look at data more meaningfully on a month-to-month basis.

Although there is plenty of ground for Williamsport to cover to get back to where it was before the pandemic, this data is indicative of a hopeful 2021 as more happy numbers begin to trail in.

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