The York-Hanover unemployment rate is continuing its slide toward pre-recession numbers.

In its 16th consecutive decrease, the local rate dropped to 5.4 percent in May, according to statistics Tuesday released by the state Department of Labor & Industry.

But not everyone has been able to find work.

Roni Stevens is looking for her first job in years.

The 60-year-old York Township resident is finding herself back in the labor force after several decades as a homemaker.

"We planned for retirement, but costs are more than expected. I just want something a few days a week that pays well and won't have me on my feet all day. That's harder to find than I expected," she said.

Overall, the number of unemployed workers has decreased during the last year from 16,400 to 12,200 - a difference of 4,200 workers or 25.6 percent drop.

But they haven't all been added to payrolls.

During the same one-year period, the number of employed York County residents has grown less than 1 percent from 211,500 workers to 212,900 workers.

Meanwhile, the labor force has decreased from 227,900 workers in May 2013 to 225,100 workers during the same month this year.

The labor force is the total number of employed and unemployed workers.

The reasons: "In many areas, the labor force is smaller than it was a year ago. York County has pretty consistently been down as far as labor force goes.


It isn't necessarily the end of the world. It could be that people who didn't want to be in the workforce anymore were finally financially able to leave," said Ismael Fertenbaugh, an analyst with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry.

For example, older workers might have chosen to retire or families might have decided to live on one income.

The workers: But that hasn't been the case for Frank Thiel, a 59-year-old engineer who has been looking for work since 2010.

The Newberry Township resident was laid off four years ago by a Washington, D.C.-based technology company he chose not to name. Since then, he's been doing odd jobs and consulting work while he looks for a new, full-time job.

"It's not that there aren't jobs out there. They just don't pay anything close to what I was making," Thiel said.

For John Beard, it's a lack of work.

The 36-year-old Spring Grove resident has his own contracting company, but he's not getting many calls.

"It's getting better, but it's still not where it was before (the recession). People aren't remodeling or getting new roofs unless they really have to," Beard said.

While the work was slow, he considered supplementing his income, but couldn't find the right fit.

"It's hard given what I've always done for a living. It doesn't fit in to your typical office job, but I don't really want to be a cashier at Walmart either," Beard said.

The jobs: The type of jobs available in York County have changed during the last year.

Manufacturing jobs are down 900, and mining, logging and construction jobs are down 900.

Meanwhile, 900 service jobs have been added. They include retail jobs and those at restaurants, banks, hospitals and other businesses.

"With 138,600 jobs, York County's service jobs are at an all-time high," Fertenbaugh said.

Some of those jobs typically pay less than jobs in manufacturing or construction, he said.

A growing service industry and declining manufacturing industry is a trend observed across the state and U.S., according to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

York County is also in line with several other counties across Pennsylvania and the rest of the country, which report a smaller labor force.

The Pennsylvania unemployment rate decreased from 7.5 percent in May 2013 to 5.6 percent during the same month this year, while the U.S. rate fell from 7.5 to 6.3 percent during the same time period.

Analysts say 5 percent is the number at which point any worker who wants a job can find one.

"But unless there's 0 percent unemployment, there will always be someone who says I want a job I can't find," Fertenbaugh said.

—Reach Candy Woodall at