County jobless rate on rise

Trumbull up 9 spots to reach 7th in Ohio

WARREN — Trumbull County’s 6.6 percent unemployment rate in March was unchanged from February, yet the county shot up nine spots to now have the seventh-highest jobless rate in Ohio.

Mahoning County actually saw its rate decrease by the slimmest of amounts — 0.1 percent to 6.1 percent — and still it rose on the list, too, from having the 21st highest in February rate to No. 13 among Ohio’s 88 counties last month.

“That means the other counties are improving while Trumbull County and Mahoning County are remaining stagnant,” said Albert J. Sumell, economics professor at Youngstown State University.

“The economy is doing well around the nation and in Ohio, but not so well in the Mahoning Valley,” Sumell said Tuesday, after the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services released the substate unemployment numbers for March. “The reasons for that are fairly obvious — the headwinds we face primarily with the closure of GM Lordstown.”

Another factor, the unemployment rate decreased in the state’s 87 other counties, according to JFS spokesman Bret Crow. Rates tend to improve in March as the weather improves and construction increases around the state, according to Crow.

To compare, the lowest unemployment rate was 2.4 percent in Mercer County in western Ohio and the highest was 9.1 percent in Monroe County along the Ohio River in the southeast part of the state. Both counties were Nos. 1 and 88 in February and in January as well.

The General Motors assembly plant idled production March 6 — a hit to most of the 1,500 or so jobs. Some employees were held over to make Chevrolet Cruze replacement parts for the service industry, however, that stopped April 5, leaving 100 or fewer employees working inside the facility.

Layoffs will continue to happen at least through May 31, the latest date the automaker informed the state it would have employees working at the facility.

The state estimates the civilian labor force in March in Trumbull County was 87,900 with 82,100 employed and 5,800 unemployed compared to February with 87,500 in the labor force, 81,700 employed and 5,800 not working.

A year ago in March, the unemployment rate was 6.4 percent.

The full brunt of the GM closure isn’t reflected in the March report and will probably spill over into April, Sumell said.

“It’s not a completely accurate picture and there is a lag associated with unemployment from the time it happens from the time it would be reflected in Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers,” he said.

“I’d expect in the April report to see a significant increase in that number. I don’t know how significant, but a majority of those who lost their job and are still in the area would not be in this report,” Sumell said.

In Mahoning County in March, the labor force was 103,600 with 97,300 working and 6,300 unemployed, compared to a work force of 103,200 with 96,800 working and 6,400 not working in February. March 2018 had a 6.1 percent unemployment rate.

The unemployment rate in March in Warren was 7.5 percent, up from 7.3 percent in February. The rate one year ago in March was 7.1 percent.

In Youngstown, the rate fell to 7.2 percent in March from 7. 5 percent in February. The rate was 7.1 percent in March 2018.

Ohio’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in March was 4.4 percent, down from 4.6 percent in February. In March 2018, the rate was 4.5 percent.

The national rate was 3.8 in March, unchanged from February. It was 4 percent in March 2018.