Fourth District Employment Conditions
The district’s unemployment rate remained at 5.5 percent for the month of August, exceeding the national rate by 0.9 percentage point. The district’s rate has been higher than the national rate since early 2004. Since last year at this same time, the district’s unemployment rate has decreased 0.1 percentage point, as has the national unemployment rate.
Of the 169 counties in the Fourth District, 17 had an unemployment rate below the national average in August and 152 had a higher one. Rural Appalachian counties continue to experience high levels of unemployment; Fourth District Kentucky is home to five counties with double-digit unemployment rates. Fourth District Pennsylvania had the lowest unemployment in the district in August at 4.7 percent, which was slightly higher than the national average. In contrast, Fourth District Kentucky (5.7 percent), Fourth District West Virginia (5.4 percent), and Ohio (5.7 percent) all had unemployment rates that were well above the national rate. Fourth District unemployment rates for the district’s major metropolitan areas ranged from a low of 4.4 percent in Lexington to a high of 6.1 percent in Cleveland.
Looking at the change in unemployment rates since January 2000, the Fourth District’s rate has increased 1.3 percentage points (from 4.2 percent to 5.5 percent). The national unemployment rate increased 0.6 percentage point (from 4.0 percent) over the same period. Of the 169 counties in the Fourth District, 124 had changes in their unemployment rates which exceeded or equaled the change in the national rate, while 45 had less. In fact, 21 counties saw decreases in unemployment rates over the period. For the most part, the western part of the Fourth District saw greater increases in unemployment rates than did the eastern part.
Lexington is the only metropolitan area in the district where nonfarm employment grew faster than the national average over the past 12 months (Lexington: 2.0 percent; national average: 1.2 percent). Dayton, on the other hand, is the only major metro area where nonfarm employment decreased (–0.2 percent). Employment in goods-producing industries increased only in Akron (1.1 percent), while Cincinnati lost 2.2 percent of its goods-producing jobs. Nationally, employment in goods-producing industries declined 1.2 percent. Service-providing employment increased in seven of the eight major metropolitan areas, with Lexington posting the strongest growth by far (2.3 percent). Information services expanded strongly in Lexington (6.5 percent) and Toledo (4.9 percent) but contracted in Cincinnati (–3.2 percent) and Pittsburgh (–2.2 percent). Employment in professional and business services grew faster in Columbus (2.1 percent), Pittsburgh (1.6 percent), Toledo (2.6 percent), and Akron (2.3 percent) than in the nation as a whole (1.6 percent). All major Fourth District metropolitan areas posted job gains in the education and health services industry but only Cincinnati posted stronger growth than the nation (Cincinnati: 3.6 percent; nation: 3.4 percent).