Fourth District Employment Conditions
The District’s unemployment rate jumped 0.7 percentage point to 10.7 percent for the month of October. The increase in the unemployment rate is attributed to monthly increases in the number of people unemployed (6.6 percent) and the labor force (0.1 percent), while the number of people employed decreased 0.4 percent for the month. Compared to the nation’s unemployment rate in October, the District’s was higher (0.5 percentage point), as it has been consistently since early 2004. Since the start of the recession, the nation’s monthly unemployment rate has averaged 0.6 percentage point lower than the Fourth District unemployment rate. From this time last year, the Fourth District and the national unemployment rates have increased 3.7 percentage points and 3.6 percentage points, respectively.
There are significant differences in unemployment rates across counties in the Fourth District. Of the 169 counties that make up the District, 34 had an unemployment rate below the national rate in September, and 135 counties had a rate higher than the national rate. There were 139 District counties reporting double-digit unemployment rates in October, indicating that 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 the 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 and the Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati corridor.
The distribution of unemployment rates among Fourth District counties ranges from 7.5 percent (Delaware County, Ohio) to 27.0 percent (Magoffin County, Kentucky), with the median county unemployment rate at 12.5 percent. Counties in Fourth District Pennsylvania generally populate the lower half of the distribution, while the few Fourth District counties in West Virginia, which continue to experience increases in unemployment rates, fall mostly into the lower half. Fourth District Kentucky continues to dominate the upper half of the distribution, with Ohio counties becoming more dispersed throughout the distribution. These county-level patterns are reflected in statewide unemployment rates, as Kentucky and Ohio have unemployment rates of 10.9 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively, compared to Pennsylvania’s 8.8 percent and West Virginia’s 8.9 percent.