This article was first published May 28, 2014.

The York-Hanover unemployment rate decreased for the 15th consecutive month, and it may be because some local residents have stopped looking for work.

Since February 2013, the rate has dropped more than two percentage points from 7.8 percent to 5.6 percent last month.

During that same period of time, the labor force has decreased from 230,900 workers to 223,000 workers.

It's a trend being observed across Pennsylvania, said Lauren Nimal, an analyst with the state Department of Labor & Industry.

But she said most people haven't stopped looking because they're discouraged.

"It could be they don't need to work anymore, families have decided to live on one income or people have decided to retire," Nimal said.

It could also be that local residents have exhausted their state unemployment and, without an extension from Congress, are without any job or source of income.

In the last year, the number of local workers collecting unemployment dropped from 15,300 to 10,500, and the labor force shed 2,800 workers.

Meanwhile, 2,000 workers found jobs in York County.

"The numbers do show unemployment has declined more than employment has gone up. It could be that some unemployed workers have stopped looking for jobs," Nimal said.

That may be because a high number of workers lost their unemployment insurance when the U.S. House failed to take up an extension bill passed by the Senate on April 7.

Extended benefits were first approved during the Great Recession in 2008 and reauthorized several times since then.

But the emergency help has become a talking point between Democrats and Republicans leading up to the midterm elections, and political analysts say the 26-week unemployment compensation from the states is all jobless workers will have to rely on while lawmakers campaign.

Yet there are reasons to be optimistic, Nimal said.

Some 1,000 jobs were added in York last month, as spring construction projects and landscaping work increased, according to statistics from the state Department of Labor & Industry.

"York is adding jobs and losing unemployment. The stats are trending in directions we would want them to trend," she said.

But statistics don't always tell the full story, according to Stephen Crump, a 53-year-old West York resident.

Crump, a former self-employed machinist, has been looking for work for more than a year.

As local manufacturing jobs have decreased, so has the contract work, he said.

"There aren't a lot of companies chomping at the bit to hire 53-year-old workers," Crump said.

—Reach Candy Woodall at