Fourth District Employment Conditions
The District’s unemployment rate increased 0.1 percentage point to 10.2 percent for the month of August. The increase in the unemployment rate is attributed to increases in the number of people unemployed (0.6 percent), decreases in the number of people employed (−0.1 percent), and decreases in the labor force (−0.5 percent). The District’s rate was higher than the national rate in August (0.5 percentage point), as it has been since early 2004. Since the recession began, the nation’s monthly unemployment rate has averaged 0.7 percentage point lower than the Fourth District’s unemployment rate. Since this time last year, the Fourth District and the national unemployment rates have each increased 3.5 percentage points.
There are significant differences in unemployment rates across counties in the Fourth District. Of the 169 counties that make up the District, 33 had an unemployment rate below the national rate in August and 136 counties had a higher rate. There were 121 District counties reporting double-digit unemployment rates. 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 7.0 percent (Allegheny County, Pennsylvania) to 21.2 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 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 10.8 percent and 11.1 percent, respectively, compared to Pennsylvania’s 8.6 percent and West Virginia’s 9.0 percent.