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Bedford County’s employment picture brightened considerably in August, with the unemployment rate falling by nearly 3%.

The county’s jobless rate fell from 12.7% in July to 9.8 in August, according to the state Department of Labor & Industry’s Center for Workforce Information & Analysis.

According to the center’s data, the county’s unemployment rolls fell by 700, from 2,900 to 2,200.

The number of people who had jobs increased by 500, from 19,900 to 2,400. The labor force shrank by 300, from 22,900 to 22,600, possibly indicating that some furloughed workers had exhausted their benefits and were no longer looking for work.

All data is rounded to the nearest 100.

While the unemployment rate showed encouraging improvement, it was still more than double the 4.8% rate of August 2019.

Not surprisingly, given the COVID-19 restrictions in place, the bulk of the lost jobs have come in the leisure and hospitality sector, which was pared by a third — from 2,100 to 1,400, from August 2019’s data.

The improving conditions prevailed across the region, with all area’s reporting gains. Huntingdon’s jobless rate fell from 14.9% to 11.5%; Johnstown’s dropped from 12.3% to 10.1%; Altoona’s declined from 11.8% to 9.4%; Somerset’s dropped from 12.1% to 10.3%; and Chambersburg’s fell from 10.9% to 8.9%.

The statewide unemployment rate for August was 10.3%, while nationally it was 8.4%.

Contact Paul Rowan at prowan@bedfordgazette.com, 623-1151, ext. 140.

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