Fourth District Employment Conditions
The Fourth District’s unemployment rate notched up 0.1 percent in June, reaching 6.2 percent. The increase can be attributed to monthly increases in the number of people unemployed (0.6 percent) along with a decrease in the number of people employed (−0.3 percent). The District’s rate was 0.7 percent higher than the nation’s in June, and it has been consistently higher since early 2004. Since the same time last year, the Fourth District’s unemployment rate has increased 0.6 percentage point, while the nation’s has increased 1.1 percentage points.
There are considerable differences in unemployment rates across counties in the Fourth District. Of the 169 counties that make up the District, 29 had an unemployment rate below the national average in June, and 140 had a higher unemployment rate than the national average. Rural Appalachian counties continue to experience higher levels of unemployment, while counties along the Ohio-Michigan border have begun to see rising rates of unemployment.
Unemployment rates in Fourth District counties range from 4.5 percent to 11.0 percent, with a median county unemployment rate of 6.6 percent. Only one of Pennsylvania’s Fourth District counties lies in the upper half of the distribution, compared to 69 percent of Ohio counties and 63 percent of Fourth District Kentucky counties.
The distribution of monthly changes in unemployment rates shows that the median county’s unemployment rate increased 0.07 percentage point from May to June. The rise in county–level unemployment rates was concentrated in Ohio in the May to June period. In fact, 83 percent of Ohio’s counties experienced an increase in the unemployment rate. On the other hand, the unemployment rate in 75 percent of Pennsylvania’s and Kentucky’s Fourth District counties actually fell or remained the same from May to June.
Since the beginning of 2007, employment in most counties in the Fourth District has fallen. Of the 169 counties in the Fourth District, employment fell in 120 and increased in only 49. The median growth in county–level employment was −0.68 percent. Ohio counties experienced the weakest employment growth over the period, with 80 percent of those counties losing employment. Moreover, 21 counties in Ohio had employment declines of more than 2.0 percent, whereas only 3 counties in Fourth District Kentucky, and no counties in Fourth District Pennsylvania or West Virginia, experienced similarly large employment declines. In fact, only 16 percent of Fourth District Pennsylvania counties showed a decline in employment from January to June.