Fourth District Employment Conditions
The district’s unemployment rate jumped 0.5 percent to 5.7 percent for the month of December. The increase in the unemployment rate can be attributed to an increase in the number of people unemployed (10.4 percent), as well as a decrease in the number of people employed (−0.6 percent) with no change to the labor force. December’s sharp rise in the district’s unemployment rate cancels out the large drop in the rate seen in November. We discussed the recent fluctuations in regional unemployment statistics last month in The Ups and Downs in Regional Employment Statistics.
Compared to the national unemployment rate, the district’s rate stood 0.7 percent higher in December and has been consistently higher since early 2004. From the same time last year, the Fourth District’s unemployment rate increased 0.3 percentage point, whereas the national unemployment rate increased 0.5 percentage point.
County-level unemployment rates differ significantly across the district. Of the 169 counties in the Fourth District, 25 had an unemployment rate below the national average in November and 144 had a higher rate. Rural Appalachian counties continue to experience high levels of unemployment. Conversely, Fourth District Pennsylvania has 8 counties with unemployment rates below the national rate. Unemployment rates for the District’s major metropolitan areas ranged from a low of 4.2 percent in Lexington to a high of 6.6 percent in Toledo.
Lexington and Akron are the only large metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) to have comparable nonfarm employment growth with the nation over the past 12 months (0.7 percent, 0.7 percent, and 0.9 percent, respectively). By contrast, Dayton and Toledo were the only large MSAs to see declines in nonfarm employment. Employment in goods-producing industries increased in Akron (0.6 percent), while all other Fourth District metropolitan areas all lost goods-producing jobs. Nationally, goods-producing employment declined by 2.0 percent.
Employment in service-providing industries saw its largest gains in Lexington (1.2 percent) and Columbus (0.9 percent). On the national level, employment in service-providing industries increased 1.4 percent. Nationally, employment in trade, transportation and utilities services increased 0.9 percent since last December; however, no large metro area in the Fourth District experienced change in employment in these industries. Professional and business services employment grew faster than the nation’s 2.0 percent in Columbus (2.8 percent) and Akron (2.2 percent). Compared to the nation’s 2.8 percent increase in education and health services employment over the past 12 months, Lexington’s 5.8 percent growth in these industries is noteworthy.