The latest unemployment figures are further evidence that the job market is getting back to where it was pre-recession, a state analyst said Tuesday.
The unemployment rate dipped from 7.4 to 7.1 percent in March in the York-Hanover area, according to numbers released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor and Industry.
York County's jobless rate is now the lowest it's been since the eve of the recession.
It's also down five-tenths of a percentage point from where it was in March 2011.
"During the last six months, it's been dropping pretty well," said William Sholly, an industry and business analyst for the state Department of Labor and Industry. "The unemployment rate is slowly going back down, and jobs are slowly picking back up."
Many of those jobs are in construction, leisure and hospitality, and professional services, he said.
The York area is seeing growth in construction jobs a little earlier than usual, adding 400 jobs from February to March, which can likely be attributed to March's unseasonably warm temperatures, he said.
Spring may also be responsible for the uptick in leisure and hospitality jobs at golf courses and other recreational spots, which also added 400 jobs from February to March, he said.
Most encouraging: But the most encouraging statistic is found in the county's professional and business services, which added 1,200 jobs between March 2011 and March 2012, he said.
"You see a lot of growth in temporary help when the economy's coming back," Sholly said.
Companies unwilling to add full-time positions will often hire temporary workers to meet the demand of their increased business, and many of those workers eventually land on payrolls full time, he said.
"How temporary workers are hired tends to be a precursor to growth in other areas," he said.
The target: But Sholly would only bill the latest unemployment report as "a good thing."
To be a great thing, he said, jobless rates would need to fall to 5 percent - a general rule of thumb quoted by most analysts.
"Five percent is considered full employment," he said.
The last time York saw a number close to that was in December 2007 when the unemployment rate was 4.3 percent.
With job growth continuing at a slow and steady pace, the county might see those figures again, Sholly said.
"By continuing to add a few jobs here and a few jobs there, things can get back to where they were," he said.
Broader picture: The jobless numbers are also dropping at the state and national level.
The unemployment rate in the state dropped from 7.6 to 7.5 percent in March. It decreased from 8.3 to 8.2 percent in the U.S.
In March 2011, the state rate was 7.9 percent and the national rate was 8.9 percent.
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