Fourth District Employment Conditions
The Fourth District unemployment rate was up in December, rising to 5.4 percent from 5.2 percent in November. Though the number of employed persons was up slightly over the month (0.15 percent), larger increases in the labor force (0.3 percent) and the number of unemployed persons (4.2 percent) led to the higher unemployment rate. Nonetheless, over the last year the District’s employment outlook has improved. Since December 2005, the unemployment rate has fallen from 5.7 percent, the number of unemployed persons is 3.9 percent lower, and employment is up 1.3 percent. Nationally, the unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in December 2006, and the January 2007 rate inched up to 4.6 percent.
In December, 146 counties in the Fourth District reported unemployment rates above the national rate of 4.5 percent, with the remaining 23 counties around or below that level. The median unemployment rate for the 169 counties in the District was 5.75 percent (that is, half of the counties had rates above 5.75 percent and half had rates below). While rates remained high in comparison with the U.S. average, unemployment rates fell in 71 counties from November to December. About three-fourths of counties had lower unemployment rates in December 2005 compared to a year earlier. Delaware County, Ohio, registered the District’s lowest unemployment rate at 3.5 percent; the District’s highest rate was 12.6 percent in Jackson County, Kentucky.
Though payroll employment fell in Cleveland and Dayton over the past 12 months, it increased in Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo, Pittsburgh, and Lexington. Goods-producing industries weighed down employment gains in the service-providing sector in the major metro areas of the Fourth District. This pattern was mirrored in the national data, where manufacturing continued to trend downward, but several service-providing sectors made strong gains. Employment growth was strongest in Cincinnati, growing by 1.2 percent year-over-year. The largest percentage gain in employment for Cincinnati came from the professional and business services sector, which grew at 4 percent and also generated the largest gain in the number of employed persons (in Cincinnati and the District), with 6,200 jobs added.