Fourth District Employment Conditions
The District’s unemployment rate jumped 0.6 percentage point to 10.3 percent for the month of May. The increase is attributed to an increase of the number of people unemployed (6.1 percent) and a decrease in the number of people employed (-0.3 percent). The District’s unemployment rate was again higher than the nation’s (by 0.9 percentage point), as it has been since early 2004. Since the recession began, the nation’s monthly unemployment rate has been 0.7 percentage point lower on average than the Fourth District’s unemployment rate. Since this same time last year, the Fourth District’s rate has increased 4.2 percentage points,and the nation’s has increased 3.9 percentage points.
There are significant differences in unemployment rates across counties in the Fourth District. Of the 169 counties that make up the District, 63 had an unemployment rate below the national rate in May and 106 counties had a higher rate. There were 121 District counties reporting double-digit unemployment rates in May. Large portions of the Fourth District have high levels of unemployment. Geographically isolated counties in Kentucky and southern Ohio have seen rates increase, as economic activity is limited in these remote areas. Distress from auto-industry restructuring can be seen along the Ohio-Michigan border. Outside of Pennsylvania, lower levels of unemployment are limited to the interior of Ohio or the Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati corridor.
The distribution of unemployment rates among Fourth District counties ranges from 6.9 percent (Allegheny County, Pennsylvania) to 18.8 percent (Williams County, Ohio), with the median county unemployment rate at 10.7 percent. Counties in Fourth District Pennsylvania generally populate the lower half of the distribution, while the few Fourth District counties in West Virginia moved to the middle of the distribution. Fourth District Kentucky and Ohio counties continue to dominate the upper half of the distribution. These county-level patterns are reflected in statewide unemployment rates, as Ohio and Kentucky have unemployment rates of 10.8 percent and 10.6 percent, respectively, compared to Pennsylvania’s 8.2 percent and West Virginia’s 8.6 percent.