Centre County unemployment rate again lowest in Pa.

Centre County is back on top. At least when it comes to the latest unemployment numbers.

The county posted a 5.7 percent unemployment rate in November 2012 — the lowest number for state counties and far below the state average of 7.8 percent and the national average of 7.7 percent. Montour County had been No. 1 for the two months prior.

Industry and business analyst Steven Zellers said the small amount of fluctuation is normal for the seasonally adjusted numbers, but Centre County doesn’t fluctuate too much because Penn State keeps it relatively level.

“Nothing in the industry mix that would lead one to believe that (Centre County would) have large gains or losses,” he said.

Leisure, hospitality and goods production jobs declined slightly from October to November, but all the other sectors remained level or increased, and overall unemployment dropped 0.2 percent.

But the county was in a better position at this time last year. Unemployment is up 0.3 percent since November 2011, but Zellers said that is not a cause for concern and is consistent with larger trends.

“The county is generally financially stable,” he said. “It’s usually on the lower end if not the lowest in the state.”

Historically the numbers have been even better.

From July 2005 to April 2008, the rate was at 4 percent or lower with the national recession forcing the numbers up to as high as 6.4 percent, but over the last two years that number has remained under 6 percent with the exception of August 2012.