Fourth District Employment Conditions
Historically, the unemployment rate for the District has been rather consistent with that of the nation and is now slightly lower at 8.8 percent compared to 9.1 percent. By states within the District, Ohio’s unemployment rate is 9.1 percent, Pennsylvania 8.3 percent, Kentucky 9.7 percent, and West Virginia 8.2 percent. Roughly six months after the recession began in December of 2007, both the District and the nation experienced rapidly rising levels of unemployment which peaked in October of 2009 at 10.5 and 10.1 percent, respectively. Since then, unemployment rates have lowered gradually and have flattened out at 8.8 and 9.1 percent, respectively since June.
The distribution of unemployment rates among Fourth District counties ranges from 6.1 percent (Mercer County, Ohio) to 17.8 percent (Jackson County, Kentucky), with the median county unemployment rate at 9.9 percent. County-level patterns are reflected in statewide unemployment rates, as Ohio and Kentucky have unemployment rates of 9.1 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively, compared to Pennsylvania’s 8.3 percent and West Virginia’s 8.2 percent.
There are significant differences in unemployment rates across counties in the Fourth District. Of the 169 counties that make up the District, 49 had an unemployment rate below the national rate in July and 120 counties had a rate at or higher than 9.1 percent. Over half of the District’s counties continue to report double-digit unemployment rates, indicating that the District labor market remains under considerable stress. Geographically, unemployment remains the highest in remote areas of Ohio and Kentucky, while rural Pennsylvania has maintained a stronger labor market.
Despite the differences in employment growth among states of the Fourth District, the District’s employment path for the recent recession was quite similar to the Nation. Since the recession began in December 2007, both the Nation and the District experienced a 5.5 percent drop in employment levels that have only been gradually increasing since December of 2009. Currently, both remain 4 percent off of pre-recession levels.