Fourth District Employment Conditions, October 2008The District’s unemployment rate rose 0.1 percent, reaching 7.0 percent in October. The increase in the unemployment rate is attributed to increases in the number of people unemployed (2.2 percent) and a decrease in the number of people employed (−0.2 percent). The District’s rate was again higher than the nation’s (by 0.5 percentage point), as it has been since early 2004. Since this time last year, the District’s unemployment rate has increased 1.5 percentage points, and the nation’s has increased 1.7 percentage points.
There are considerable differences in unemployment rates across counties in the Fourth District. Of the 169 counties that make up the District, 42 had an unemployment rate below the national average in October, and 127 had a higher one. District counties reporting double–digit unemployment rates numbered 19, while only 1 county had an unemployment rate below 5.0 percent. Rural Appalachian counties continue to experience higher levels of unemployment, and those counties along the Ohio–Michigan border have begun to see more elevated rates of unemployment.
The distribution of unemployment rates across Fourth District counties ranges from 4.6 percent to 11.9 percent, with a median county unemployment rate of 7.5 percent. Counties in Fourth District West Virginia and Pennsylvania populate the lower half of the distribution, while 55 percent of Fourth District Kentucky counties and 60 percent of Ohio’s counties are in the upper half of the distribution. These county–level patterns are reflected in statewide unemployment rates. The states of Ohio and Kentucky have unemployment rates of 7.3 and 6.8 percent, respectively, compared to Pennsylvania’s 5.8 percent and West Virginia’s 4.7 percent.