Majority of region sees decrease in jobless rates

June statistics from the state Department of Labor & Industry show almost all of the region’s counties with a drop in their respective unemployment rates from the previous month.

According to a department news release, the seasonably adjusted rates dropped between two-tenths to four-tenths of a percentage point throughout the region.

In Venango County, the jobless rate fell from 4.4 percent in May to 4.2 percent in June; in Clarion County, it went from 4.1 to 3.8; in Crawford County, it fell from 4.3 to 4.0; in Mercer County, it dropped from 4.5 to 4.2; and in Jefferson County, it fell from 4.3 to 3.9.

Forest County, however, saw its rate surge nearly a full percent, from 5.3 in May to 6.2 in June.

Lauren Riegel, a Labor & Industry analyst, told the newspaper the drop in most of the region is not uncommon, and agreed that it’s much like how the stock market goes through corrections.

“Seasonal adjustment tends to have more volatility at the county level, particularly in small counties,” Riegel said. “In the county, we look at historical movements and saying that’s what we can expect.

“If claims were normally up, we will compare that to history, jobs numbers and current population survey. They’re all a big part of it.”

Overall, according to department statistics, the state stood at 3.8 percent in June and the nation was at 3.7 percent, and Riegel said unemployment rates in 53 of the state’s 67 counties are down from May.

Clarion County’s jobless rate is tied at 21st lowest in the state, Jefferson County is tied at 25th lowest, Crawford County is tied at 32nd, Venango and Mercer counties are tied at 40th and Forest County is tied at 66th.

“They’re dropping this month because they went up in May; most counties are hovering around where they were two months ago. In fact, Venango County, at 4.2 percent, is near the record low it set in April of 4.1. In May, it was at 4.4 percent.

“Over two months, they are showing very little change. That tells me there was a seasonal movement that happens slightly different than average. More in actuality it’s a summer pattern, but over a two-month period.”

However, the significant rise in Forest County’s jobless rate has Riegel at a loss.

“Forest, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out exactly why it rose that high,” Riegel said. “The job numbers look normal, and there’s nothing unusual in claims. We’ll wait about a month to see what happens.”