The unemployment rate in Lancaster County fell for the seventh consecutive month in November, dipping to 4.7%, the state announced Tuesday.
But it’s unclear how much longer that downward trend will go on.
In dropping from October’s 5.4%, the local jobless rate continued to slide nearer to its pre-pandemic level of 3.0% to 3.9%, where it had hovered for three years, the state Department of Labor & Industry report showed.
With the November figure, Lancaster County’s rate retained its usual status as one of the best in Pennsylvania, compared to the rates of the 17 other metropolitan areas across the state. Only Gettysburg (4.3%) and State College (4.5%) fared better. East Stroudsburg had the highest at 7.8%.
Lancaster County also had a lower rate in November than the state (6.6%) and nation (6.7%).
The new local rate suggests that the county economy continued to rebound in November from its nadir in the spring, when COVID-19 arrived and Gov. Tom Wolf closed many of the state’s businesses to limit its spread.
Wolf’s action pushed the unemployment rate to a pandemic-induced peak of 15.2% in April – the worst since the Great Depression in the 1930s – but it has declined steadily since.
The November rate of 4.7% stands 1 percentage point higher than the year-earlier mark of 3.7% in November 2019, before the pandemic arrived. The county had 13,400 people without work in November – 2,600 more than a year ago.
Helping to trim the unemployment rate here in November was job growth in several major employment sectors, compared to October.
For instance, retail trade added 500 jobs. Warehousing (including e-commerce fulfillment centers), transportation and utilities increased by 400 jobs. Education and health services grew by 300 jobs. Manufacturing and wholesale trade picked up 100 jobs apiece.
Those gains were offset in part by a loss of 1,200 jobs in leisure and hospitality, which includes hotels and restaurants, the state report shows.
But the steady decline in the unemployment rate might come to a halt in December.
The numbers of Lancaster County residents filing new claims and continued claims for unemployment benefits – harbingers of the unemployment rate – have reversed direction in recent weeks as COVID-19 cases have hit record highs. The surge in cases led Wolf to close certain businesses such as restaurants (for indoor dining), gyms and movie theaters for three weeks, which ended Monday.
The state will announce the county’s December unemployment rate on Feb. 2.
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