Lancaster County unemployment at 7.3 percent; 24.6 percent lower than national average

TEMP ORARY October 21, 2011 0

Recent statistics revealed that Lancaster County is doing much better than many other areas in Pennsylvania regarding unemployment. Compared to the national average, which is 9.1 percent, Lancaster County’s unemployment rate is 7.3 percent. The county’s average is 24.6 percent lower than the national unemployment rate. Is there a reason behind Lancaster County’s success? In an email interview, Director of Career Services Jane Nini explained some reasons why Lancaster County is doing so well.

“I am not sure that you can draw an accurate conclusion based on an isolated unemployment rate,” Nini said. “If you look at a number of counties that surround big cities, you will see a similar pattern of unemployment with some counties having rates far lower than 7.3 percent.” These statistics have the potential to affect Elizabethtown College graduates trying to find jobs, especially students that would like to work in or outside urban areas.

Nini stated that the reason for this recent trend of lower unemployment rates near big cities, “might be that there is a lower rate of unemployment in highly-educated counties. Also, the individuals from these counties might very well work in the city even though they live in the county where the unemployment rate is lower.” Nini’s hypothesis makes sense when looking at the chart of Baltimore’s unemployment rates and some of their surrounding counties. “You can see that a similar pattern occurs there….the same type of information can be viewed for Philadelphia as well. BLS.gov allows you to search for metropolitan regions and unemployment,” explained Nini.

Should our graduates be looking for jobs around the area or would they have more luck in a large city such as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, or Boston?
When asked how recent Etown graduates have handled these economic troubles, Nini referred to some statistics.

“Our graduates have moved to a variety of places, but the majority of Elizabethtown College students are from PA and they tend to stay in this region after graduation (or within the Mid-Atlantic area),” Nini said.

One of the reasons they do this is because of student loans. Many students are more likely to move back in with their parents in order to save money to pay back their loans. They also are more prone to stay in the area so they can share an apartment with friends in order to save some money.

Senior mass communications major Tom Pagut is optimistic. “Well, I’m not really worried about employment rates. I’ve always been able to find a job, even if it’s not what I want to be doing. You’ve got to make money somehow,” he said. Pagut plans to move home after he graduates and live with his parents for as short of a period as possible to save money and find his own place. His goal is to move out by next summer. “I’m going to be looking for a job around New Jersey but will move anywhere if the job is awesome,” he added.

Although Pagut is confident about finding a job, not everyone feels the same. Many of the protesters participating in Occupy Wall Street appear to be recent college graduates who cannot find jobs. According to www.legitgov.org,
“The Occupy Wall Street protest’s objectives are: ‘to stop corporate greed and corruption on Wall Street and in our political process.’” Laura Guthrie, 27, a senior from the University of Kentucky studying public relations, expressed her worries about her student loan debt during a recent article published on WSWS.org. “I have about $25,000 in student loan debt,” she said. “Almost everyone I know that has graduated is either struggling terribly to pay for their loans or they’ve already defaulted.” Although Guthrie has applied to jobs across the country, she has had no luck.

Times are tough for graduates, and according to Nini, flexibility and open-mindedness are key to succeeding when job-searching, “I think the more open-minded graduates are regarding their career fields, salary expectations, and the geographic locations, the easier their job search will be. Flexibility is key in a tough economy.”

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