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February jobless numbers fine, but wait for March count

LISBON — The latest unemployment figures likely reflect the calm before the storm.

The figures released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services show the statewide unemployment rate in February remained unchanged at 4.1 percent. The national rate declined by 0.1 percent to 3.5 percent.

Meanwhile, Columbiana County’s jobless dropped from 6.3 percent in January to 5.8 percent last month.

That is expected to change in a major way three weeks from the now when the state releases the March unemployment numbers, the first since businesses began laying off employees en masse and temporarily closing in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Approximately 187,780 applications seeking unemployment benefits were filed the first week after Gov. Mike DeWine began closing businesses on March 15 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. There were only 7,046 claims filed the prior week.

The previous weekly record for unemployment claims was 49,321 set in July 1992. The data has only been publicly available since 1987.

March’s unemployment filings are expected to easily eclipse the previous monthly record of 205,159 set in December 1981.

After the first numbers started rolling in, the Trump administration asked states to delay releasing those figures until the U.S. Department of Labor released its statistics.

Unemployment claims nationwide hit 3.3 million as of last week, more than four times the previous monthly record of 695,000 in October 1982, according to the labor department.

Approximately 2,247 county residents received unemployment benefits last month, with the average payment being $386 per week. The number of new applications actually decreased, from 327 in January to 240 last month.

An estimated 44,900 countians had jobs last month, while another 2,800 were listed as unemployed.

The unemployment rate in February decreased in 81 of Ohio’s 88 counties and increased in just six.

Of the adjoining Ohio counties, the county’s jobless rate was lower than Mahoning (6.3 percent), Jefferson (7 percent) and Carroll (6.4 percent), but higher than Stark (5.3 percent).

tgiambroni@mojonews.com

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