A growing labor force caused the York-Hanover area's unemployment rate to rise to 8.0 percent in July - handing the region its highest jobless numbers since last fall.
The rate climbed two-tenths of a percent, up from 7.8 percent in June, according to statistics released Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry.
Unemployment rates for the state and nation also climbed last month. Pennsylvania's rose three-tenths to 7.9 percent, and the U.S. rate increased one-tenth to 8.3 percent.
"The labor force is growing, and more people are looking for work. Some are finding it, some are not," said William Sholly, an analyst for the state Department of Labor & Industry.
York-Hanover's seasonally-adjusted rate does include the 2,500 jobs lost as public schools closed for the summer, he said.
"The shift in seasonal patterns causes a little bit of a roller coaster," he said.
In June, the local unemployment rate climbed six-tenths to 7.8 percent.
Before that, the region's rate held steady at 7.2 percent during March, April and May.
And prior to that, the rate had slowly dropped from 8.0 percent in September 2011.
This week's numbers, like last fall's, also mirror rates seen in York-Hanover during the recession. It was 8.0 in May 2009 and climbed every month to its peak at 9.1 in February 2010.
But Sholly said that should be no cause for concern.
"I'm seeing nothing now to suggest the rate will shoot up like it did in 2009 and 2010. It's a little early to say how it will shake out. If it goes up for another couple months, it will be something to be concerned about," he said.
He attributed most of the climb to a statewide trend of people who had been out of the labor force once again seeking employment.
"There were many sitting out who are now coming back in," he said.
Timothy Trimmer is one of those workers re-entering the local labor market.
Trimmer, who was laid off from Harley-Davidson last August, recently purchased The Pie Shop, a York City bakery in the heart of Central Market. But he said he spent a year looking for a good job before he finally decided to be his own boss.
"It was a very emotional time," he said. "I thought I had a career nailed down with Harley. I wanted to retire there. It was very hard to find a plan B and a job that paid in the same field Harley paid."
Local manufacturers have the job discussion every day, according to Michael Smeltzer, executive director of the Manufacturers' Association of South Central Pennsylvania.
"What it comes down to is a confidence problem," he said.
Employers are in a holding pattern, hoping the cost of diesel fuel, which affects their shipping expenses, will lower. They also watch the rising cost of health insurance, which is about $10,000 per employee, he said. Manufacturers are also waiting to see how the election cycle, and subsequent tax policies, will affect their businesses, he said.
"In the near term, our members are more inclined to have their employees work overtime than hire someone new," he said. "By hiring someone new, I not only have to pay their salary, I have to pay their benefits and health insurance. The larger that number becomes, the more reason I'll find to not hire someone."
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