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Kyle Fee |

Economic Analyst

Kyle Fee

Kyle Fee is an economic analyst in the Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. His research interests include economic development, regional economics and economic geography.

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04.06.09

Economic Trends

Fourth District Employment Conditions

Kyle Fee

The District’s unemployment rate jumped 0.7 percentage point to 8.8 percent for the month of February. The increase in the unemployment rate is attributed to an increase of the number of people unemployed (8.2 percent) and a decrease in the number of people employed (−0.2 percent). The District’s unemployment rate was again higher than the national rate in February (by 0.7 percentage point), as it has consistently been since early 2004. Since the recession began, the nation’s monthly unemployment rate has been 0.6 percentage point lower on average than the Fourth District unemployment rate. Since this time last year, the Fourth District and the national unemployment rates have increased by 3.4 percentage points and 3.3 percentage points, respectively.

There are substantial differences in unemployment rates across counties in the Fourth District. Of the 169 counties that make up the District, 41 had an unemployment rate below the national rate in February, and 128 counties had a higher rate. There were 69 counties in the District reporting double-digit unemployment rates, and 70 percent of those were in Ohio. Rural Appalachian counties continue to experience higher levels of unemployment, as do counties along the Ohio-Michigan border. More recently, counties on the Ohio side of the Ohio-Pennsylvania border have seen spikes in unemployment rates. 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 6.0 percent to 14.6 percent, with a median county unemployment rate of 9.5 percent. Counties in Fourth District Pennsylvania generally populate the lower half of the distribution, while the few Fourth District counties in West Virginia moved to the middle of the distribution. Fourth District Kentucky and Ohio counties continue to dominate the upper half of the distribution. These county-level patterns are reflected in statewide unemployment rates, as Ohio and Kentucky have unemployment rates of 9.4 percent and 9.2 percent, respectively, compared to Pennsylvania’s 7.5 percent and West Virginia’s 6.0 percent.

Current unemployment rates vary more across Fourth District metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) than they did only a year ago. Statewide unemployment trends are evident at the MSA level, as MSAs in Fourth District Pennsylvania posted low levels of unemployment even with Erie’s heavy allocation of labor in the manufacturing sector. Lexington’s unemployment rate is also rather low despite employing a similar percentage of workers in manufacturing as Akron, Cleveland, and Dayton. Such differences in unemployment rates are likely due to the particular composition of the manufacturing industries in the MSAs. For instance, those MSAs with less exposure to the auto industry have experienced lower levels of unemployment than those that depend heavily on the auto industry for employment.

MSA Unemployment Rates

 
February 2008 unemployment rate (percent)
February 2009 unemployment rate (percent)
Manufacturing employment as a percent of total employment (2007)
Akron
5.1
8.8
13.7
Canton
5.6
9.5
17.8
Cincinnati
4.9
8.4
11.6
Cleveland
6.1
8.7
13.3
Columbus
4.5
7.4
8.1
Dayton
5.6
10.7
12.9
Toledo
6.5
11.4
14.7
Youngstown
6.3
11.7
15.2
Lexington
4.2
7.1
13.7
Erie
5.4
7.4
18.2
Pittsburgh
4.8
6.6
8.8

Note: Data are seasonally adjusted using the Census Bureau's X-11 procedure.
Sources: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.