Fourth District Employment Conditions

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01.08.08

The district's unemployment rate remained at 5.7 percent for the month of October. Similar declines in the number of people employed (-0.4 percent), the number of people unemployed (-0.3 percent) and the size of the labor force (-0.4 percent) kept the district's unemployment rate steady. Compared to the national unemployment rate in October, the district's rate stood 1.0 percent higher and has been consistently higher since early 2004. Over the last year, the Fourth District's unemployment rate increased 0.4 percentage point, whereas the national unemployment rate increased 0.3 percentage point.

Within the Fourth District, unemployment rates varied widely across locations. Of the 169 counties in the Fourth District, 14 had an unemployment rate below the national average in October while 155 had a higher unemployment rate. Rural Appalachian counties continue to experience high levels of unemployment, and Fourth District Kentucky is home to five counties with unemployment rates that exceed 10 percent. Unemployment rates for the District's major metropolitan areas ranged from a low of 4.3 percent in Lexington to a high of 7.7 percent in Toledo.

Lexington is the only large metropolitan area where nonfarm employment grew as fast as the national average (1.2 percent) over the past 12 months. Akron, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Pittsburgh added jobs but at a slower rate than the United States. Conversely, Cleveland, Dayton, and Toledo have seen either no change or a decrease in nonfarm employment over the same period. Employment in goods-producing industries increased in Akron (1.3 percent), while all other Fourth District metropolitan areas lost goods-producing jobs. Nationally, employment in goods-producing industries fell 1.3 percent.

Focusing on the service sector, Lexington showed the strongest growth in employment (1.6 percent) and was the only large metro area in the Fourth District with growth close to the national average of 1.7 percent. All other Fourth District metro areas experienced employment growth in the service sector of less than one-half of the national rate. Information services expanded in Lexington (4.3 percent), Toledo (2.5 percent), and Cleveland (0.6 percent). Professional and business services employment grew faster than the national rate of 2.0 percent in Columbus (2.2 percent), Toledo (2.6 percent), and Akron (2.4 percent). Compared to the nation's 3.2 percent increase in education and health services employment over the past 12 months, Cincinnati and Lexington posted stronger job gains (3.5 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively); all other large Fourth District metropolitan areas posted modest gains in education and health services.

Looking over a longer time horizon--from January 2000 forward--nonfarm employment growth ranged from 4.2 percent in Akron to -6.4 percent in Dayton. These employment growth rates all fall well short of the national growth rate of 8.2 percent, and the shortfalls were present in both the goods-producing and service sectors. All Fourth District metropolitan areas shown in the table lost goods-producing jobs at more than twice the national rate. Dayton (-32.0 percent) and Cleveland (-26.6 percent) led the declines in manufacturing employment, while Lexington (-17.7 percent) was the only Fourth District metro area in the table to lose manufacturing jobs at a slower rate than the nation (-18.6 percent). However, the substantial difference in job growth between the nation and Fourth District metropolitan areas in goods-producing industries is not primarily a result of differences in manufacturing. Instead, the Fourth District fell well short of the nation's 23.6 percent employment growth in natural resources, mining, and construction industries.

Turning to the service sector, Akron showed the strongest growth in service-providing employment of Fourth District cities (10.1 percent)--not too far below the national average of 11. …