County Jobless rate up in December

LISBON – Columbiana County’s unemployment rate increased by 0.3 percent in December, the first such jump in four months.

The county’s jobless rate was 7.6 percent last month after dropping to 7.3 percent in November, with the estimated number of unemployed increasing by 100 people to 3,900, according to the latest figures released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The rate was last this high in August.

While the county’s unemployment was increasing in December, Ohio’s jobless rate continued to drop, declining from 6.8 percent in November to 6.7 percent last month. The national unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.8 percent.

During the same period the number of new claims for unemployment benefits increased, from 564 to 841 last month. The number of people receiving benefits for the first time in December was 237 compared to 140 the month before. The average benefit payment in December was $307 per week.

Among the adjoining Ohio counties, the county’s unemployment rate was higher than Mahoning (7.3 percent), Stark (6.7 percent) and Carroll (7.4 percent) but lower than Jefferson (10.6 percent).

The county’s jobless rate was the 29th highest of Ohio’s 88 counties.

Pike County in southeastern Ohio retained the dubious distinction of having the highest unemployment rate in the state in December, at 12.3 percent. Mercer County, located on the Indiana border, continued to have to the lowest jobless rate in the state, at 3.9 percent.