The York-Hanover unemployment rate is at its lowest level in six years.

Statistics released Tuesday morning by the state Department of Labor & Industry show the area's January unemployment rate fell to 6.2 percent — four-tenths of a percent less than December's 6.6 percent rate.

While 400 jobs were added from December to January, the local labor force decreased overall.

The York County workforce — including those working and those looking for jobs — decreased from 225,200 in December to 224,400 in January. And that represents a decrease of 5,700 in the local workforce from January 2013.

Those losses indicate fewer people may be choosing to work or looking for a job, according to Ismael Fertenbaugh, an analyst with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry.

"It seems fewer people are looking for work, but it doesn't mean there are more discouraged workers," he said.

The reasons: Analysts looked into it and determined there's an increase in people who do not want a job, Fertenbaugh said.

"We're hearing people say, 'I don't want to work. I don't need to work,'" he said. "We're not sure if that means they're optimistic, don't need a two-income family or have adjusted to a new normal."

Fertenbaugh also pointed out a Congressional Budget Office study that determined the Affordable Care Act would enable workers to give up second jobs they might have had simply for the health care coverage.

Across the nation: "There's a lot of political debate and we can't say for sure why it's happening, just that it's happening. It's a pretty consistent trend across the state," he said.

It's apparently a trend across the country.

The number of working-age U.S. residents with jobs or looking for work was 63 percent in February — the lowest level since 1977, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It's not solely because baby boomers are retiring, as numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show an increase in older workers each year.

Instead, it might be because families have indeed adjusted to that new normal Fertenbaugh mentioned and figured out how to live on one household income.

Federal Reserve economists predicted that would happen at the time of the recession, claiming if people believed there were fewer job opportunities, they would stop looking.

'Good news': About 400 jobs were added in York County from December to January (mostly in leisure and hospitality), but the region was down 700 jobs compared to January 2013.

Still, local leaders are hopeful.

"I think we're on a positive trajectory," said Darrell Auterson, CEO of the York County Economic Alliance.

Jobs were added in the local economy from 2011 to 2012 and 2012 to 2013, and December ended on a strong note, he said.

"It's a slow, steady climb, but it's good news," Auterson said.

—Reach Candy Woodall at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.