Fourth District Employment Conditions
The district’s unemployment rate dropped 0.2 percent to 5.3 percent for the month of February, following January’s downward revision to 5.5 percent. The decrease in the unemployment rate can be attributed to decreases in the number of people unemployed (−3.8 percent) and the labor force (−0.1 percent) and no change in the number of people employed. The district’s unemployment rate was again higher than the nation’s in February (by 0.5 percent), as it has been since early 2004. Since this time last year, the Fourth District’s unemployment rate increased 0.3 percentage point, while the national rate increased 0.6 percentage point.
County-level unemployment rates vary throughout the district. Of the 169 counties in the Fourth District, 29 had an unemployment rate below the national average in February and 140 had one higher. Rural Appalachian counties continue to experience higher levels of unemployment.
The distribution of unemployment rates among Fourth District counties ranges from 3.5 percent to 9.8 percent, with the median county unemployment rate at 5.7 percent. Pennsylvania counties tend to populate the middle to lower half of the distribution, while Ohio and Kentucky counties span the entire range.
The distribution of monthly changes in unemployment rates shows that the median county’s unemployment rate declined 0.17 percentage point from January to February. The county-level changes indicate that a substantial number of Ohio counties experienced declines in unemployment rates that exceeded 0.3 percentage point. However, almost all the West Virginia counties in the Fourth District (six counties) saw their unemployment rates increase.