Jobless rate inches upward

LISBON – Columbiana County’s unemployment rate rose in May after dropping each of the previous three months.

The county’s jobless rate increased to 7.7 percent, up 0.2 percent from April, according to figures released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Meanwhile, Ohio’s unemployment rate in May remained unchanged at 7 percent, while the national jobless rate increased slightly, from 7.5 percent to 7.6 percent.

The latest unemployment report coincides with a recent study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that claims the actual jobless rate is much higher when you factor in the number of people who have simply quit looking for work. According to the report, the state’s unemployment rate for Ohio would have been 11.5 percent in 2012 instead of the official rate of 7.2 percent if you include those who have either temporarily or permanently dropped out of the job search.

The unemployment rate is an estimate based on a formula that takes into account the number of people filing for and receiving unemployment benefits, plus the results of a monthly phone survey of 50,000 households nationwide, including 2,000 in Ohio.

The estimated number of unemployed county residents increased by 100 to 3,900 in May, with 47,200 people listed as having jobs. While this was going on, the number of new filings for benefits decreased from 407 to 358 last month, as did the number of people continuing to receive benefits over that period, which dropped from 3,122 to 2,512 in May. The average weekly benefit was $314 in May.

Among the adjoining Ohio counties, Columbiana County’s rate was higher than Carroll (6.8 percent) and Stark (7.1 percent), the same as Mahoning and lower than Jefferson (10.3 percent).

The county’s May rate was the 27th highest among Ohio’s 88 counties. Pike County in southeastern county continues to have the highest unemployment rate at 11.9 percent, while Mercer County along the Indiana border still has the lowest jobless rate at 4.3 percent.