Fourth District Employment Conditions
The district’s unemployment rate fell 0.1 percent to 5.5 percent for the month of July. The decrease in the unemployment rate can be attributed to decreases in the number of people employed (−0.1 percent), the number of people unemployed (−3.1 percent), and the size of the labor force (−0.4 percent). Compared to the national rate, the district’s unemployment rate stood 0.9 percentage point higher in July, and it has been persistently higher since early 2004. Since the same time last year, the Fourth District’s unemployment rate decreased 0.2 percent, as did the national unemployment rate.
Of the 169 counties in the Fourth District, 17 had an unemployment rate below the national average in July, and 152 had a higher unemployment rate than the national average. Rural Appalachian counties continue to experience high levels of unemployment; Fourth District Kentucky is home to three counties with double-digit unemployment rates. The unemployment rate for Fourth District Kentucky is 6.0 percent, well above the national average of 4.6 percent. Also above the national average but down from last month (−0.3 percent), Ohio’s unemployment rate is 5.8 percent. On par with the national average, Fourth District Pennsylvania has an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent. Unemployment rates for the District’s major metropolitan areas ranged from a low of 4.3 percent (Pittsburgh and Lexington) to a high of 6.4 percent ( Toledo).
Dayton is the only major metropolitan area to have nonfarm employment decrease (−0.1 percent) over the past twelve months. On the other hand, Lexington (2.3 percent) is the only to metropolitan area where nonfarm employment grew faster than the national average (1.3 percent). Employment in goods-producing industries increased 1.9 percent in Akron and 0.2 percent in Lexington; nationally, employment in goods-producing industries declined 0.8 percent. Cleveland and Cincinnati lost goods-producing jobs at more than double the national rate. Service-providing employment increased in seven of the eight major metropolitan areas, with Lexington posting the strongest growth by far (2.8 percent). Employment in professional and business services grew in all Fourth District metro areas except for Cleveland (−0.5 percent) and Dayton (−0.6 percent). All major Fourth District metro areas posted job gains in the education and health services industry, with only Cincinnati (3.6 percent) posting stronger growth than the nation (3.3 percent). Information services expanded strongly in Lexington (6.5 percent) and Toledo (3.1 percent) but contracted in Cincinnati (−3.1 percent) and Akron (−2.1 percent).
Looking over the longer term, employment growth in Cleveland and Pittsburgh has significantly lagged the national rate. In particular, Cleveland experienced a severe contraction in employment during and after the 2001 recession, from which it has been slow to recover. Cincinnati and Columbus have fared better, but even these cities have added jobs at a relatively modest pace over the last three years.
Fourth District mid-sized cities also showed marked differences in employment growth over the last decade. Dayton and Toledo have experienced weak growth while Akron and, especially, Lexington have enjoyed much stronger employment growth.