Fourth District Employment Conditions
The District’s unemployment rate increased 0.2 percent, reaching 6.9 percent for the month of August. July’s rate was also revised upward 0.1 percent. August’s increase in the unemployment rate is attributed to monthly increases in the number of people unemployed (3.4 percent) outpacing increases in the number of people employed (0.1 percent). The District’s rate was again higher than the nation’s in August (by 0.8 percentage point), as it has consistently been since early 2004. Since this time last year, the District’s rate has increased 1.5 percentage point, and the national rate has increased 1.4 percentage points.
The counties of the Fourth District differ considerably in their unemployment rates. Of the 169 counties that make up the District, 34 had an unemployment rate below the national average in August, and 135 had one higher. Sixteen counties reported double-digit unemployment rates, while 2 counties had an unemployment rate below 5.0 percent. Rural Appalachian counties continue to experience higher levels of unemployment, and counties along the Ohio-Michigan border have begun to see more elevated rates of unemployment as well.
The distribution of unemployment rates among Fourth District counties ranges from 3.8 percent to 11.7 percent, with the median at 7.3 percent. Counties in Fourth District West Virginia and Pennsylvania have generally lower unemployment rates than counties in Fourth District Kentucky and Ohio. These county-level patterns are reflected in statewide unemployment rates: Ohio’s is 7.4 percent, Kentucky’s is 6.8 percent, Pennsylvania’s is 5.8 percent, and West Virginia’s is 4.1 percent.
The distribution of changes in unemployment rates from August of 2007 shows that the median county unemployment rate increased 1.4 percentage points. Year over year, the largest increases in county-level unemployment rates are concentrated in Ohio, with 38 percent of the counties in Ohio seeing increases in the unemployment rate in excess of 2.0 percentage points. On the other hand, all Fourth District counties in West Virginia have seen unemployment rates fall over the same period. Fourth District Pennsylvania saw unemployment rate increases ranging from 0.9 percent to 1.7 percent.