Numbers may not tell the whole story

LISBON – Columbiana County’s unemployment rate continued its sharp decline, dropping in April to its lowest level since November 2007.

The jobless rate last month was 6 percent compared to 6.6 percent in March, according to figures released this week by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The county’s unemployment rate stood at 8.4 percent just four months ago.

Ohio’s unemployment also continued to fall during the same span, dropping from 6.1 percent in March to 5.7 percent last month. The national jobless rate also fell in April, from 6.7 percent to 6.3 percent.

Although 288,000 new jobs were added nationwide in April, experts say the chief reason for the lower jobless rate is the continued decline in the number of unemployed people still looking for work. The number of working-age jobless who dropped out of the work force totaled 806,000 in April, and the labor participation rate fell to 62.8 percent.

Columbiana County’s estimated work force continued to decline, dropping to 49,400 in April. It reached a peak of 54,000 in mid-2007, which is about the time the recession began.

Among the adjoining Ohio counties, Columbiana County’s jobless rate remained the same in April as Mahoning, lower than Jefferson (7.5 percent) but higher than Carroll (5.6 percent) and Stark (5.3 percent).

The number of residents receiving unemployment benefits dropped in April by more than 600 to 3,708, while the number of new claims for benefits increased from 400 to 480.

The unemployment rate is an estimate based on a formula that depends largely on the number of people receiving benefits and a nationwide monthly phone survey of 50,000 households, including 2,000 in Ohio.

The county’s April unemployment rate was the 28th highest among Ohio’s 88 counties, with Monroe County in southern Ohio again with the dubious distinction of having the highest unemployment rate at 10.7 percent. Mercer County along the Indiana border continued to have the lowest jobless rate at 3 percent.