Jobless rate creeps lower

LISBON – Columbiana County’s unemployment rate declined in March but still remains higher than the state and national average.

The county’s jobless rate dropped from 8.6 percent in February to 8.2 percent last month, according to figures released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Meanwhile, the Ohio unemployment rate in March remained unchanged at 7.1 percent, while the national rate dropped slightly from 7.7 percent in February to 7.6 percent last month.

The estimated number of unemployed county residents dropped in March by 100 to 4,200, with 46,600 residents listed as having jobs. The number of new filings for benefits increased, however, from 373 to 399, while the number of people who exhausted benefits dropped from 66 to 62. The average weekly benefit was $312 in March.

The unemployment rate is based on a formula that takes into account the number of people filing for and receiving benefits, plus the results of a monthly phone survey of 50,000 households nationwide, including 2,000 in Ohio.

Among the adjoining Ohio counties, the county’s rate was higher than Carroll (8 percent) and Stark (7.7 percent) but lower than Mahoning (8.3 percent) and Jefferson (10.1 percent).

The county’s unemployment rate was the 30th highest among Ohio’s 88 counties. Pike County, in southeastern Ohio, still had the highest jobless rate at 13.4 percent, while Mercer County along the Indiana border continued to have the lowest rate at 4.6 percent.