Fourth District Employment Conditions
The District’s unemployment rate remained at 10.7 percent for the month of November. Compared to the national rate, the District’s unemployment rate was 0.7 percentage point higher. The District’s unemployment rate has been consistently higher than the nation’s since early 2004. Since the start of the recession, the nation’s monthly unemployment rate has averaged 0.6 percentage points lower than the Fourth District unemployment rate. Since this same time last year, the Fourth District unemployment rate has increased 3.6 percentage points and the national unemployment rate has increased 3.2 percentage points.
There are significant differences in unemployment rates across counties in the Fourth District. Of the 169 counties that make up the District, 37 had an unemployment rate below the national rate in November and 132 counties had a rate higher than the national rate. There were 132 District counties reporting double-digit unemployment rates in November, indicating 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 or the Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati corridor.
The distribution of unemployment rates among Fourth District counties ranges from 7.5 percent (Butler County, Pennsylvania) to 24.5 percent (Magoffin County, Kentucky), with the median county unemployment rate at 12.1 percent. Counties in Fourth District Pennsylvania generally populate the lower half of the distribution, while the few Fourth District counties in West Virginia are scattered across the distribution. 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 10.6 percent and 10.6 percent, respectively, compared to Pennsylvania’s 8.5 percent and West Virginia’s 8.4 percent.
Similar to the national payroll employment situation, Ohio and large metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the Fourth District have recently seen payroll employment begin to bottom out. However, smaller MSAs in the District are still experiencing declines in payroll employment.