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Kyle Fee |

Economic Analyst

Kyle Fee

Kyle Fee is an economic analyst in the Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. His research interests include economic development, regional economics and economic geography.

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06.09.09

Economic Trends

Fourth District Employment Conditions, April 2009

Kyle Fee

The District’s unemployment rate increased 0.4 percentage point to 9.7 percent for the month of April. The increase in the unemployment rate is attributed to an increase of the number of people unemployed (4.1 percent) and a decrease in the number of people employed (−0.4 percent). The District’s unemployment rate was again higher than the nation’s (by 0.8 percentage point), as it has been since early 2004. Since the recession began, the nation’s monthly unemployment rate has been 0.6 percentage point lower on average than the Fourth District’s. Since this time last year, the Fourth District’s unemployment rate has increased 4.2 percentage points, and the nation’s, 3.9 percentage points. Year over year, the number of people unemployed in the Fourth District increased 77.8 percent (78.8 percent for the nation), while the number of people employed fell 4.4 percent (3.7 percent for the nation).

There are significant differences in unemployment rates across counties in the Fourth District. Of the 169 counties that make up the District, 47 had an unemployment rate below the national rate in April, and 122 counties had a higher rate. There were 104 District counties reporting double-digit unemployment rates for April. Large portions of the Fourth District have high levels of unemployment. Geographically isolated counties in Kentucky and southern Ohio have seen rising rates, as economic activity is limited in these remote areas. Distress from auto-industry restructuring can be seen along the Ohio-Michigan border. Outside of Pennsylvania, lower levels of unemployment are limited to the interior of Ohio or the Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati corridor.

The distribution of unemployment rates across Fourth District counties ranges from 6.7 percent (Allegheny County, Pennsylvania) to 16.7 percent (Williams County, Ohio), with the median county unemployment rate at 10.9 percent. Counties in Fourth District Pennsylvania generally populate the lower half of the distribution, while the few Fourth District counties in West Virginia moved to the middle of the distribution. Fourth District Kentucky and Ohio counties continue to dominate the upper half of the distribution. These county-level patterns are reflected in statewide unemployment rates: Ohio and Kentucky have unemployment rates of 10.2 percent and 9.8 percent, respectively, compared to Pennsylvania’s 7.8 percent and West Virginia’s 7.5 percent.

Current unemployment rates for Fourth District metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) differ markedly. While the industrial composition of these areas helps to explain much of these differences (see “Ohio’s Local Labor Markets” and “Employment Loss in Ohio’s Manufacturing Industry” for more detail), human capital plays a similar role. MSAs with higher percentages of the population holding a bachelor’s degree or higher tend to have lower unemployment rates. Naturally, the level of human capital reflects an MSA’s industrial composition, but human capital will be a vital contributor to how these areas cope with and adjust to this downturn.

Employment Growth and Sector Shares

 
Unemployment rate (percent)
Percent of population (25+) with a bachelor's degree or higher
Akron
9.6
28.0
Canton
11.2
21.4
Cincinnati
9.3
28.2
Cleveland
9.3
26.8
Columbus
8.2
32.4
Dayton
11.4
25.8
Lexington
7.8
32.9
Pittsburgh
7.5
27.6
Toledo
12.5
23.8
Youngstown
12.9
19.0

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.