Fourth District Employment Conditions
The District’s unemployment rate fell 0.1 percentage point to 10.2 percent for the month of June. The decrease in the unemployment rate is attributed to a decreases in the number of people unemployed (−1.1 percent), the number of people employed (−0.3 percent) and the labor force (−0.1 percent). Compared to the national rate in June, the District’s unemployment rate stood 0.7 percentage point higher and has been consistently higher since early 2004. Since the recession began, the nation’s monthly unemployment rate has averaged 0.7 percentage point lower than the Fourth District unemployment rate. From the same time last year, the Fourth District and the national unemployment rates have increased by 3.9 percentage points and 3.9 percentage points, respectively.
There are significant differences in unemployment rates across counties in the Fourth District. Of the 169 counties that make up the District, 66 had an unemployment rate below the national rate in June and 103 counties had a higher rate. There were 120 District counties reporting double-digit unemployment rates in June. Large portions of the Fourth District have high levels of unemployment. Geographically isolated counties in Kentucky and southern Ohio have seen rates increase as economic activity is limited in these remote areas. Distress from the 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 among Fourth District counties ranges from 6.8 percent (Allegheny County, Pennsylvania) to 18.3 percent (Williams County, Ohio), with the median county unemployment rate at 11.6 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 as Ohio and Kentucky have unemployment rates of 11.1 percent and 10.9 percent, respectively, compared to Pennsylvania’s 8.3 percent and West Virginia’s 9.2 percent.
A scatter plot of county unemployment rates from December 2007 against year-over-year changes in county unemployment rates supports the observation of markedly different local labor markets within the Fourth District. Fourth District Pennsylvania counties all have had similar performance over the past year. On the other hand, Ohio and Kentucky have seen changes in unemployment rates vary significantly among counties. In general, those counties with higher unemployment rates tended to have larger increases in unemployment rates over the past year.