Columbus-area unemployment rate hits 2.8%, lowest since 1999

Mark Williams
The Columbus Dispatch
The Greater Columbus unemployment rate was 2.8% in December, the lowest since 1999.

The unemployment rate for the Columbus metropolitan area has not recovered just from the pandemic.

It's also recovered from the financial crisis and every economic rough spot this century.

The region posted an unemployment rate of 2.8% in December, according to state unemployment data released Tuesday. The last time the rate was that low was December 1999.

The 2.8% figure is almost a record low.

The only time the rate was lower in data that go back to 1990 was 2.7% in July 1998.

The unemployment rate jumped to 13.2% in April 2020 in the early days of the pandemic. It's been falling since.

The data do not account for seasonal adjustments. As a result, rates tend to drop in the fall and rise in the winter with the end of seasonal holiday work.

The lower rate came even though the 10-county Columbus region lost 5,100 jobs in December, led by a drop of 4,100 jobs in a category that includes construction work along with 1,000 manufacturing jobs.

The region's unemployment rate dropped as the number of workers in the labor force fell.

Despite the low unemployment rate, the region has yet to fully recover the jobs that were lost from the pandemic and the number of people in the labor force.

The 2.8% rate matches the rate of Cincinnati for the lowest among the state's metro areas.

Nine of Ohio's 88 counties had unemployment rates at or below 2.5% in December.

In Greater Columbus, that includes three counties: Delaware, 2.3%; Union, 2.4%; and Madison, 2.5%.

The rate for Franklin County was 2.9% and the rate for Columbus was 3%.

Licking County posted a rate of 2.7% and Fairfield's rate was 2.9%.

The rates for the rest of the counties in the region topped 3% — Pickaway, 3.1%; Morrow, 3.3%; Hocking, 3.6%; and Perry, 4%.

Holmes County in northeast Ohio had a 2% unemployment rate in December, the lowest in the state. Monroe County in eastern Ohio had the highest, 6%.

Unemployment rates decreased in 38 counties last month, increased in 29 counties and remained the same in 21 counties. 

mawilliams@dispatch.com

@BizMarkWilliams