Unemployment rates rise in Butler County, Cincinnati metro

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Butler County’s unemployment rate rose in September and October from the same months the year before, breaking 40 consecutive months of year-over-year declines in the countywide jobless rate.

As of October, the county’s unemployment rate sits at 6.7 percent, according to new local employment data released Tuesday by Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

The state released Tuesday two months of employment data, for September and October. The unemployment rate in September was 6.9 percent, up from 6.2 percent in September 2012. Previously, September employment data was delayed until Tuesday because of the government shutdown.

With the new labor information, estimates are the number of people living in Butler County who are unemployed, and looking for work, is 12,800 people. In October 2012, 11,700 Butler County residents were considered unemployed, making the unemployment rate at that time 6.2 percent.

Butler County employment dropped to 176,900 people working last month, compared to employment of 178,000 in October 2012, according to Ohio Job and Family Services.

September was the first time since April 2010 that the county’s unemployment rate increased from the year before. The unemployment rate in Butler County has been on the decline for more than three years, but is still considered by economists to be high.

The unemployment rate in Butler County has hovered above 6 percent since June 2008, according to state data. Even so, economic expert Richard Stevie said unemployment rates higher than 6 percent is not the new normal. Five percent unemployment is considered a healthier level by experts.

“This economic recovery has been one of the slowest since the Great Depression,” Stevie, vice president of forecasting for Integral Analytics, told the Journal-News last week at a presentation on the Cincinnati area’s economic outlook. Stevie is one of five panel members on the Cincinnati-area Regional Economic Advisory Committee.

“I don’t know that there is a normal on unemployment. For those that are unemployed, it’s not normal,” Stevie said.

The last one percent is hard to lose.

The longer the recovery goes on, the “tougher and tougher it gets,” he said.

Unemployment rates are based on a household phone survey that asks someone if they are working or not, and if they’re not, whether they are searching for a job. Unemployment rates do not consider people who are out of work and not searching for a job.

These are preliminary estimates, and could be revised in the future when more information becomes available.

Also, employment numbers for the county, city and metro area are not seasonally adjusted.

Tuesday’s report also shows October unemployment in the whole 15-county Cincinnati metropolitan, including Butler and Warren counties, to be sitting at 7 percent, increasing from 6.5 percent a year ago.

Ohio added jobs in September and October, but the state’s unemployment rate last month rose to the highest level in 20 months.

Ohio is a diverse state with a diverse set of regional economies, and some metros are performing better than others because of different economic circumstances and mixes of industries, said Benjamin Johnson, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

“When you look at the metro areas, you see some distinction, and you see some metro areas that have added jobs more rapidly than others, and you see some metro areas that have lost jobs over the last 12 months,” Johnson said. “That variance adds to a statewide job market that is improving, but improving slowly.”

Staff writer Cornelius Frolik contributed to this report


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