The unemployment rate dropped in five area counties in March, the state Department of Labor and Industry said.
The biggest drop for the second consecutive month was in Clearfield County, where the unemployment rate dropped from 9.1 percent in February to 8.6 percent in March, the department said. The county's unemployment rate was 10.6 percent one year ago.
Rob Swales, executive director of the Clearfield County Industrial Development Authority, said progress is being made in reducing the unemployment rate and with more activity with Marcellus Shale drilling, the figure is likely to continue to drop.
"We've seen some recovery over the past year. Our manufacturing has been holding its own and with the secondary service industries, we have seen an uptick in companies retaining workers and calling more back," Swales said. "We anticipate this area will be a hotbed this summer especially in the drilling and it's just beginning."
The unemployment rate in Cambria County dropped from 8.4 percent in February to 8.1 percent in March. Over the year, the county's rate has dropped 1.5 percentage points.
The unemployment rate dropped two tenths of a percentage point in Blair, Bedford and Huntingdon counties.
Blair's rate dropped from 6.7 percent in February to 6.5 percent in March; Bedford County's from 9.2 percent to 9 percent; and Huntingdon County's from 9.6 percent to 9.4 percent.
Centre County's unemployment rate remained at 5.3 percent, the second lowest among Pennsylvania's 67 counties.
Bradford County continues to hold the lowest rate at 5.1 percent, and Cameron County has the highest rate at 13.3 percent.
The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania in March was 7.8 percent and the national rate was at 8.8 percent, the department said.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.