Are more people landing jobs or are they simply dropping out of York County’s labor force?

From the left, Justin Mahaffey and Carolyn Blyzniuk of Ecolab USA talk with Jason Leas of Dover who is looking for a career in HVAC  during a HACC-York Campus Career and Transfer Fair in York.

From the left, Justin Mahaffey and Carolyn Blyzniuk of Ecolab USA talk with Jason Leas of Dover who is looking for a career in HVAC during a HACC-York Campus Career and Transfer Fair in York.

The state of the local job market depends on who you ask.

Some people will look at the current numbers and, with no real analysis, claim that the days of high unemployment are behind us.

A quick look at those numbers shows that, year-over-year, the unemployment rate dropped from 7.8 percent to 6.9 percent.

But, do those stats directly reflect hiring?

I’d say no.

I’m not debating that businesses aren’t always looking for good workers. More and more jobs are created everyday.

However, while unemployment has shifted downward, so has the local labor force.
That’s right. Year-over-year, the York County labor force has shed 3,500 workers.

And remember, in order to be counted among the unemployed, you must first be a member of the labor force. That means that you must be actively be looking for work.

So, where are all of these people going, if not to work.

William Sholly with the state’s Department of Labor & Industry said some households might have opted to live on one income with potential wage earners electing to stay home. Or, it could be that more people are retiring and dropping out of the force.

Last month, on the national level, unemployment dropped to 6.7 percent, because 525,000 additional unemployed adults were discouraged and did not seek a job, stated Peter Morici, an economist and professor at the University of Maryland, in a recent column.

So, it seems that, some people who might have otherwise be counted among the unemployed are simply unplugging from the force.

The question is, when and if those people decide to start looking again, will the jobs be there?

Were the jobs ever there to begin with?

Let’s take the second question first.

The short answer is that it depends on the job you’re looking to land.

Between November 2012 and November 2013, local retailers added 400 jobs.

During the same period, manufacturers cut 400 positions.

As for the first question, that answer might depend on when you jump back into the market.

For example, starting next year, businesses with 50 full-time employees will have to offer health insurance, according to one of the cornerstones of the Affordable Care Act.

Some businesses, looking to avoid costly insurance bills, will labor to their staff numbers in check.

George Leight, owner and operator of Fuddruckers in Springettsbury Township, said recently that if his business ever increased to the point that the restaurant was close to employing 50 workers, he would likely have his existing staff take on more hours rather than hire additional employees.

And, to be clear, people are looking for jobs.

Recently, I’ve covered two local employment fairs, both of which were well attended by hundreds of job seekers.

Many of those I interviewed had never met, but each person had one thing in common: each had struggled to find a job with varying degrees of success.

For example, Shameka Davis of York, who stopped by a recent job fair at HACC, is trained as certified nursing assistant, but she’s applied for opportunities outside her field at companies looking to fill either retail or clerical positions.

“Most places want you to have a lot of experience,” she said. “It’s hard to find places that will train you. Some places will ask me why I’m applying for a retail job when I have my CNA. I apply for what I can get.”

Adam Clauser, a local job seeker who attended a recent PA CareerLink Employer & Agency Recruitment Event, said some potential employers fail to return calls.

“They never do give you a call back,. What they really mean is that they will give you a call- if your lucky.”

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