With fewer seeking work, jobless rate still dropping

LISBON – Columbiana County’s unemployment rate continues to decline, although the decline in May was not as sharp as previous months.

The jobless rate last month was 5.9 percent, down from 6 percent in April, according to figures released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The county’s unemployment has been on the decline since January, when it increased to 8.4 percent.

Meanwhile, Ohio’s unemployment rate continued to decline during the same span, dropping from 5.7 percent two months ago to 5.5 percent in May. The national unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.3 percent.

The decline in Ohio’s unemployment rate reflects a continued increase in the number of jobless people who have quit looking for work, rather than any significant improvement in the economy, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. An estimated 11,000 discouraged Ohioans dropped out of the labor force in May, the third consecutive month the number of people who quit looking for work increased by more than 10,000.

An estimated 46,800 county residents had jobs in May, while 2,900 were listed as unemployed.

Among adjoining Ohio counties, Columbiana County’s jobless rate was higher than Carroll (5.6 percent), Mahoning (5.8 percent) and Stark (5.2 percent) but lower than Jefferson (7.5 percent).

The number of initial benefit claims filed in May was 389, down from 418 the month before. The average weekly benefit paid was $318.

The county’s unemployment rate was the 23rd highest among Ohio’s 88 counties. Monroe County in southern Ohio again had the highest employment rate at 10.8 percent, while Mercer County on the Indiana border continued to have the lowest jobless rate at 3 percent.