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Jobless rate begins to come down

LISBON — After reaching a level in April likely not seen since the Great Depression, Columbiana County’s unemployment declined last month.

After skyrocketing from 6 percent in March to 20.4 percent in April because of the economic fallout from the coronavirus, the county’s estimated jobless rate declined to 15.3 percent in May, according to figures released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Gov. Mike DeWine closed schools and all businesses deemed non-essential in mid March and ordered Ohioans to say home to combat the spread of the coronavirus, with much of the economy coming to a grinding halt as a result.

The full effect of the decisions were not felt until the April unemployment figures were released last month, which revealed one in five working-age county residents found themselves out of a job, something likely not see seen since the recession of the early 1980s or the late 1930s toward the end of the Great Depression.

The state and national unemployment rates also declined between April and May, after Ohio and many other states began a gradual reopening of businesses and the economy. Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped from 17.6 percent to 13.7 percent, while the national rate declined from 14.7 percent — the highest since the Great Depression — to 13.3 percent.

The formula used to determine the unemployment rate — based on a household and business surveys, claims and other data — estimated the number of jobless countians decreased from 9,600 in April to 7,300 last month. The estimated number of those with jobs increased from 37,600 to 40,200.

Actual figures show the number of residents continuing to receive unemployment benefits decreased by 1,284 to 21,502, with an average weekly benefit of $324.

The number of new applications for benefits slowed significantly, however, dropping from 3,688 in April to 1,487 last month.

The county’s jobless rate was the 79th highest among Ohio’s 88 counties, up 68 places from April. Among adjoining Ohio counties, the county’s rate was the same as Mahoning and higher than Stark (12.6 percent), Carroll (13.2 percent) and Jefferson (14.9 percent).

tgiambroni@mojonews.com

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