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11.16.17

Columbus unemployment rate ticks up, but job creation remains strong

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The metro area’s unemployment rate has risen more than half a percentage point

Since the current expansion began in 2009, the unemployment rate in the Columbus metro area has stayed around 1 percentage point below the national average, until August that is. After reaching post–crisis lows of 3.7 percent in April, the jobless rate ticked up to 4.3 percent in August – just one–tenth of a percent shy of the national average.

“It is now closer to the nation’s unemployment rate than it’s been at any previous point in the current economic expansion,” said Guhan Venkatu, vice president and senior regional officer at the Pittsburgh branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

Despite the increased unemployment rate, general hiring trends remained strong around Columbus. The region finished off the 12–months ending in March with employment growing more than twice as fast as it did when compared with Ohio as a whole. Employment growth of 2 percent in the region was also better than the 1.5 percent growth experienced nationwide during the same period.

When it comes to specific sectors of the economy, Columbus outpaced job gains statewide in all major categories except the leisure and hospitality business. “Trade, transportation, and utilities was the greatest contributor to the area’s employment gain,” said Venkatu. “Other major contributors included education and health services and government.”

From March 2016 to March 2017, no major sectors in the Columbus metro area experienced employment declines​

Columbus–area consumers remained largely healthy in terms of both consumer debt and credit card delinquency rates. “During the previous 10 years, the metro area’s credit card delinquency rate was consistently below both the statewide and national averages,” explained Venkatu. Delinquencies fell to 6.3 percent in the second quarter of 2017.

Housing in the Columbus metro area also remained strong. Home prices rose 5.4 percent in the 12 months ending in August, weaker than the average across both the state and the nation, but greater than the area’s 12–month average of 4.8 percent since the start of 2013.

Housing permits issued in the area averaged approximately 850 per month through August 2017, that’s compared to 650 in 2016. “The number of permits issued in the metro area has grown significantly faster than in the state or the nation.” In reference to housing permits Venkatu added, “it has been substantially higher thus far in 2017 than in prior years.”

For more of Guhan Venkatu’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.

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