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February unemployment numbers not as bad as January figures

March 25, 2009
By TOM GIAMBRONI, Staff Writer

LISBON - Columbiana County's estimated unemployment rate increased in February, although it was nothing like what occurred in January.

The unemployment rate for February increased to 13.2 percent, up from 12.8 percent the previous month, according to figures released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The county rate was last this high in March 1984, when it was 13.6 percent.

But the 0.4 percent increase was significantly less than the nearly 3 percent jump that occurred from December to January, when the county's unemployment rate exploded from 8.9 percent to 12.8 percent.

According to the state, an estimated 7,100 countians are now unemployed, an increase of 200 from the January reporting period.

The actual number of people receiving unemployment benefits, which applies only to full-time workers, increased by 4 percent, from 2,588 as of mid-February to 2,691 as of mid-March.

The estimated unemployment rate takes into account the number of people receiving benefits, as well as data, including information obtained from a monthly household survey, where occupants over the age of 16 are interviewed about their job status.

The county unemployment rate of 13.2 percent remains well above the state rate (9.4 percent) and national rate (8.1 percent) for February. The state and national unemployment rates as reported by the national news media are seasonally adjusted, however, whereas the county rate is not.

The county unemployment rate still has a way to go before it matches the 21 percent peak reached in January 1983, which represents the high-water mark since at least 1950. The highest national unemployment rate since 1950 was 10.8 percent in 1982. The national unemployment rate was 25 percent at the height of the Great Depression in 1933.

Jessica Borza, who runs the Mahoning-Columbiana Training Association/One Stop in Lisbon, said they are seeing an increase in the number of people seeking job retraining through programs offered by her agency. She believes this reflects a growing realization among the lower-skilled unemployed they need to obtain a marketable skill more in line with local business needs.

"If there is a silver lining to all of this it is that people are realizing they need to improve their skills to position themselves to move forward," Borza said.

She said the fields in demand are industrial maintenance, machinists, engineers, electrical engineers and almost anything in the health care field.



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