LOCK HAVEN - Clinton County CareerLink Director Bruce Jones told the county's board of commissioners Thursday that we're holding our own when it comes to jobs, the impact of the Marcellus shale natural gas industry has tapered off over the past two months and there's high interest among local job seekers when it comes to Baker Hughes Inc.
Baker Hughes Inc. of Houston, Texas has already broken ground on 35 acres at the Lamar Township Business Park, and is creating a major facility expected to generate over 200 jobs locally.
Jones said his office has received a lot of interest from local residents in connection with the facility, which is actually a complex of buildings and stations.
However, Jones said, many of those expressions of interest are "lateral" or from "incumbents," meaning people already holding jobs who are asking about the positions because some of those jobs hold the promise of higher wages.
Jones also told the board that Clinton County's unemployment rate is holding steady at 7.9 percent, representing some 300 more jobs than a year ago in November.
Jones said of the 50 jobs filled by the local CareerLink office in November, only three were related to the gas industry, and in December, of 33 jobs filled, only five were gas industry jobs.
The "slowing trend" is likely seasonal, Jones told the commissioners.
Clinton County's jobless rate matches the state's unemployment rate of 7.9 percent, but is lower than the U.S. rate of 8.6 percent. Still, Jones said, Clinton County usually shows a jobless rate lower than the commonwealth.
Jones also commented on new unemployment compensation regulations being handed down from the federal governments to the states, requiring workers who sign up to document their job seeking efforts in order to obtain benefits. He said the work requirement is sparking a small spike in the number of people seeking work, although he offered no statistics.
In answer to a question posed by Commissioner Pete Smeltz, Jones said the lateral "migration" has mostly occurred in connection with the mechanical and transportation trades, and the demand for heavy vehicle operators remains higher than the number of qualified workers.