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Press Release

Columbus approaches historic mark driven by diversified economy, according to Cleveland Fed researchers

The metro area’s unemployment rate has fallen near its lowest point on record

The Columbus metro area’s unemployment rate fell sharply in the first quarter of 2018, from 4.0 percent in December 2017 to 3.3 percent by March, to near historically low levels. These levels have been reached locally only once before, during the economic boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“The metro area’s unemployment rate fell in the first quarter for the right reason: employment growth outpaced labor force growth,” said Mekael Teshome, a vice president and senior regional officer of the Cleveland Fed. “This is a sign of confidence in local labor market conditions, as job seekers are drawn in to the workforce by the availability of jobs.”

Nearly all major sectors of the economy added workers in the 12 months leading up to September 2017, with employment climbing 1.3 percent, more than double the pace of statewide job growth. Construction was the fastest-growing sector adding nearly 1,400 jobs.

“The two next-fastest-growing sectors—education and health services and trade, transportation, and utilities—account for more than a third of the metro area’s employment and added a combined total of nearly 10,000 jobs, or more than two-thirds of the metro area’s total employment growth,” said Teshome.

One blemish in the otherwise positive employment data were job losses in the Columbus area’s second- largest industry, professional and business services. However, Teshome is quick to put the losses in the context of the broader economy. “The fact that the metro area’s economy still advanced when one of its largest sectors pared workers is a testament to the regional economy’s industrial diversity.”

For more of Teshome’s and research analyst Sarah Mattson’s insights on economic conditions in the Columbus area, see our latest Columbus 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,, 513.455.4479