Written By: Carissa Gurgul

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data release in August 2018, the list of towns with the lowest unemployment rates in the United States show that five are in Iowa, one having the lowest in the country – Ames, Iowa with 1.7%.  On the list of towns with the highest unemployment rates, 20 towns are in California and the highest in the country is Yuma, Arizona at 22%.  Numbers vary so much from state to state, and even amongst certain areas within states, due to an uneven growth and overall size of labor.  Given a weak economy, if an area’s labor grows at too fast of a rate, the number of new people looking for employment may outnumber the amount of available jobs, causing the unemployment rate to rise, and vice versa.

As of 2015, Pennsylvania was ranked #41 in states with the highest growing job market.  Within PA, NerdWallet ranked individual towns based on population growth, cost of living, and unemployment rates, finding that the top two towns in PA for job seekers are Chambersburg and York, both part of the SCPa Workforce Development Region.  The NerdWallet article discusses PA CareerLink sites in these two towns as a contributor to their success, given all of their career development opportunities, with its regional office is Chambersburg.  According to the United States Census Bureau, between 2009 and 2012, Chambersburg grew 11.6% in population, and average yearly incomes are ~$39,491 despite only a $13,908 approximate cost of living per year.  As for York, the largest employer in the town is the York Hospital, with ~8,000 York residents employed by them alone.  Farther down the list at #9 is Lebanon, yet another town within our workforce development region, which also grew a significant amount in population between 2009 and 2012, 5.8%.  Lebanon’s homeowner cost is only $1,009 per month, the lowest of the ten towns listed.  The town with the highest median annual income on the list is Monroeville with $108,373, while the lowest is in York with $30,251.  The towns with the lowest unemployment are Plum and Bethel Park, tied at 4.8%, while the highest is 8.7% in Lancaster.

Although not on the top ten list, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Harrisburg’s average annual salary is $47,220, just below the national average of $49,630.  United News and World Report has reported it to have a “healthier job market than similarly sized metro areas,” with the unemployment rate slightly lower than the national average, still on the same downward trend.  The same source reports the top industries in Harrisburg to be healthcare and social assistance with a total employment of 47,400, accommodation and food services with a total employment of 23,900, and administrative and support and waste and management remediation services with 19,600 total employees.


Clark, Maggie. “Best Towns for Job Seekers in Pennsylvania.” NerdWallet, NerdWallet, 22 June 2017, https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/mortgages/home-search/best-towns-job-seekers-pennsylvania/.

“Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Job Market.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, https://realestate.usnews.com/places/pennsylvania/harrisburg/jobs.

Schoen, John W. “Here Are the Metro Areas with the Best and Worst Job Markets.” CNBC, CNBC, 5 Oct. 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/05/here-are-the-us-metro-areas-with-the-best-and-worst-job-markets.html.