Jobless rate lowest since 2008

LISBON – Columbiana County’s unemployment rate declined in March to it lowest level in nearly six years.

The jobless rate last month was 6.6 percent compared to 7.8 percent in February, according to figures released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The unemployment rate stood at 8.4 percent just three months ago.

The county’s unemployment rate was last this low in May 2008, when it reached 6.5 percent. This was the halfway point in the so-called Great Recession, which officially ended in early 2009, although the unemployment rate continued to rise before it peaked at 14.8 percent in January 2010.

Meanwhile, Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped from 6.5 percent to 6.1 percent in March, while the national figure remained unchanged last month at 6.7 percent.

Among the adjoining Ohio counties, Columbiana County’s jobless rate was higher than Stark (6.3 percent) but lower than Mahoning (7 percent), Carroll (7.1 percent) and Jefferson (8.1 percent).

While the jobless rate dropped in March, the estimated number of employed county residents remained the same, at 46,200, but the number of unemployed dropped by 900 to 3,300. Meanwhile, the number of people receiving unemployment benefits increased by nearly 400, to 4,378.

The average weekly benefit in March was $328.

The rate is an estimate based on a formula that depends largely on the number of people receiving unemployment benefits and a nationwide monthly phone survey of 50,000 households, including 2,000 in Ohio.

The county’s March unemployment rate was the 38th highest out of 88 counties, with Monroe County in southern Ohio again ranking first at 12.5 percent. Mercer County along the Indiana border continued to have the lowest employment rate at 3.7 percent.