Fourth District Employment Conditions
The district’s unemployment rate jumped 0.6 percent, to 6.1 percent, for the month of May. The increase can be attributed to monthly increases in the number of people unemployed (12.4 percent) and the labor force (0.3 percent), along with a decrease in the number of people employed (−0.2 percent). Compared to the national rate, the district’s unemployment rate stood 0.6 percent higher in May and has been consistently higher since early 2004. Since the same time last year, the Fourth District unemployment rate has increased 0.7 percentage point. The national rate has increased 1.0 percentage point.
There are considerable differences in unemployment rates across counties in the Fourth District. Of the 169 counties that make up the Fourth District, 32 had an unemployment rate below the national average in April, and 136 had a higher rate than the national average. Rural Appalachian counties continue to experience higher levels of unemployment.
The distribution of unemployment rates among Fourth District counties ranges from 4.5 percent to 11.3 percent, with a median county unemployment rate equal to 6.5 percent. Only one of Pennsylvania’s Fourth District counties lies in the upper half of the distribution compared to 65 percent of Kentucky’s Fourth District counties that lie in the upper half of the distribution.
The distribution of monthly changes in unemployment rates across counties shows that the median county’s unemployment rate increased 0.64 percentage point from April to May. The county-level changes indicate that 98 percent of Ohio counties and 100 percent of Kentucky counties in the Fourth District experienced an increase in their unemployment rates. Alternatively, the unemployment rate in about half of the Pennsylvania counties in the Fourth District actually fell or did not change from April to May. This is consistent with previous Fourth District employment reports, which have shown that Fourth District Pennsylvania has a much stronger labor market than Ohio and Fourth District Kentucky and West Virginia.