The unemployment rate in Franklin County fell back to early summer levels in September after two straight months of increase.

The county’s rate dropped to 4.1% in September from 4.6% in August, according to figures released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor. The rate had gone from 4% in June to 4.5% in July and 4.6% in August after five months of steady decline.

The unemployment rate began the year at 5.8% before bottoming out at 4% in June.

Because of seasonal variations, a year-to-year comparison of employment statistics gives a truer picture of an area’s unemployment situation, the Labor Department said in its news release. The county’s unemployment rate in September 2018 was 3.9%, the Labor Department reported.

Despite the increase in the year-over-year unemployment rate, the number of people listed as working in Franklin County was actually higher in September as in the same period the previous year. The Labor Department reported 18,900 county residents as employed in September 2019; during the same month in the previous year the number was 18,800.

The number of people listed as unemployed remained the same in the same year-over-year period at 800.

The increase in the unemployment rate even as the number working went up and the number of unemployed remained the same indicates that the county’s work force - the actual number of people looking for work - grew in the intervening year.

Five of the six other counties identified by the state as the North Country saw their unemployment rates drop in September. Only Hamilton County, which traditionally experiences its lowest unemployment rates during the summer months because of an influx of tourists, saw its rate bump upward from 3.1% in August to 3.6% in September.

The increase knocked Hamilton County from having the lowest unemployment rate in the state, tied with Columbia County, to the eighth-lowest rate in the state, behind Columbia (2.8%); Genesee, Schuyler, Seneca and Wayne counties (all 3.3%); Sullivan County (3.4%) and Essex (3.5% –– a decrease from 3.8 % in August).

Because of the small size of the workforce in Hamilton County - fewer than 3,000 people - even a small change in the actual employment numbers can produce a noticeable difference in its unemployment rate.

On the other end of the spectrum, the September unemployment rates of Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties was tied for the second highest in the state at 4.7%, despite declines from their August rates. St. Lawrence County’s rate dropped from 5.6%, while Jefferson County’s went down slightly from 5%. The two North County counties were tied with Oswego County and trailed only the Bronx, which again reported the highest unemployment rate in the state despite a decrease from 5.9% in August to 5.1% in September.

Clinton County’s unemployment rate decreased from 4.2% in August to 3.8 in September, while the rate in Lewis County went down from 4.4% in August to 4.1% in September, according to the Labor Department figures.

Only 13 of the state’s 62 counties –– including four from the North Country –– had unemployment rates above 4% in September. Only Columbia County reported a rate below 3%.

Overall, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell slightly to 3.9% after remaining static at 4% since May.

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