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County unemployment rate drops to pre-pandemic levels

LISBON –It may be hard to believe, but Columbiana County’s unemployment rate has returned to pre-pandemic levels.

The county’s jobless rate for October was 5.6 percent in October, according to figures released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The unemployment rate was last this low in February, a month before Gov. Mike DeWine shuttered schools, ordered the closure of non-essential businesses, restricted public gatherings and told Ohioans to stay home.

As a result, the county’s unemployment skyrocketed to 20.4 percent in April, a level likely not seen since the recession of the early 1980s or during the Great Depression of the 1930s. It has declined every month since after DeWine gradually began lifting restrictions.

Whether the unemployment rate accurately reflects what is going on in the job market is subject to debate. The jobless rate is based on a formula that takes into account the number of people receiving benefits, plus information gleaned from a household phone survey and canvass of certain employers performed the first two weeks of each month by the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics. Sometimes the estimated jobless rate will drop while the number of people receiving unemployment benefits increases.

That was not the case in October, however. The number of countians receiving benefits dropped from 6,734 in September to 4,985 last month. The figure was 2,147 in February and jumped to nearly 23,000 by April before declining.

The estimated number of county residents with jobs was 44,600 in October, up 2,000 from the month before. The number of those employed was an estimated 47,200 in February, which declined to 37,600 by April.

Meanwhile, the state unemployment rate dropped from 8.4 percent in September to 5.6 percent last month. The national rate also declined, from 7.9 percent in September to 6.9 percent in October.

The unemployment rate fell in all 88 Ohio counties. The county’s rate was the 16th highest in the state.

Among adjoining counties, the county’s rate was lower than Mahoning and Jefferson (6.6 percent), the same as Carroll (5.6 percent) but higher than Stark (5.1 percent).

tgiambroni@mojonews.com

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