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Press Release

Cleveland economy punctuated by an “encouraging reversal,” but growth remains slow

The recent rise in the unemployment rate has turned around for now

The Cleveland metro area’s unemployment rate fell on a year-over-year basis for the first time in 19 months in December. It’s an encouraging reversal of the recent trend that saw the region’s unemployment rate ticking up from post-recession lows.

“It will be important to watch if this reversal remains a lasting change in the local labor market in the coming months,” according to Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland economist Joel Elvery. Cleveland’s unemployment rate of 5.4% in December remains above both the state at 4.7% and the nation at 4.1%.

Employment growth in the region has been slow. Major sectors such as education and health services and trade, transportation, and utilities shed nearly 3,000 jobs between June 2016 and June 2017. Professional and business services was the fastest growing sector over that period, adding more than 5,000 jobs, but Elvery adds important context.

“Although this growth was faster than that in Ohio and in the nation as a whole, the strong growth, in part, reflects a delayed recovery from a downturn in employment in this sector in late 2015 and early 2016,” he said. Growth has also been slowing in the trade, transportation, and utilities sector as consumers’ growing preference for online shopping changes the industry. “Amazon’s opening of two warehouses in the Cleveland metro area could add as many as 3,000 jobs and help to ease employment decline in this sector,” said Elvery.

There were encouraging signs of further recovery and stabilization in the Cleveland metro area’s housing market. The median home value in the region saw its strongest growth in more than a decade during 2017, with home values clocking growth of 5.3 percent year-over-year in December. In that period, the median home value in the Cleveland metro area rose to $137,000, slightly higher than the state average of $130,000, but well below the national average of $206,300.

For more insights on economic conditions in the Cleveland area from Joel Elvery and Julianne Dunn, see our latest Cleveland Metro Mix.

And browse through our Region, for data, maps, research, and other information related to the diverse economies and communities in the region served by the Cleveland Fed: Ohio, eastern Kentucky, western Pennsylvania, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that along with the Board of Governors in Washington DC comprise the Federal Reserve System. Part of the US central bank, the Cleveland Fed participates in the formulation of our nation’s monetary policy, supervises banking organizations, provides payment and other services to financial institutions and to the US Treasury, and performs many activities that support Federal Reserve operations System-wide. In addition, the Bank supports the well-being of communities across the Fourth Federal Reserve District through a wide array of research, outreach, and educational activities.

The Cleveland Fed, with branches in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, serves an area that comprises Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

Media contact

Doug Campbell,, 513.218.1892