Ashtabula County: June Employment & Unemployment Report

Ashtabula County resident employment averaged 41,900 in June 2016, about the same level of average employment as 2010. However, employment began to grow in early 2016, a potentially positive sign. The current labor force average was 44,700, about 5,600 lower than 2007. The rate of labor force contraction has slowed since mid-2014 and the labor force had a small increase in early 2016. The unemployment picture has improved over the past several years as the number of unemployed and the unemployment rate has decreased. Unfortunately, the unemployment rate improvement has primarily been due to labor force contraction, rather than employment growth.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides monthly estimates of resident employment (16 years & older) & unemployed residents seeking employment. The twelve-month moving average of employment in the county decreased from 46,600 in 2007 to 41,900 in 2010 and has remained close to that level during the national economic recovery. However, the volatile “not seasonally adjusted” employment estimate for June 2016 increased to 42,729, about 200 better than June 2015. The growth in early 2016 may begin to affect average employment if sustained in coming months.

An analysis of the change in employment months showed that the local economy did not have a sustained period of post-recession employment growth or a satisfactory recovery from recessionary job losses. The growth in early 2016 was an encouraging sign of a strengthening economy, but June estimates were weaker than the preceding months.

The labor force includes all persons at least 16 years old with a job or seeking a job, and excludes persons in the military or institutionalized. In Ashtabula County, the labor force has decreased from 50,000 in 2007 to 44,600 in mid 2016, a loss of 5,400. The recession may have accelerated the contraction and the weak recovery led to some discouraged workers who stopped efforts to gain employment. The county’s labor force has been contracting for a decade, but the rate of loss has slowed since late 2014. The labor force grew slightly in preliminary 2016 estimates.

Since 2007, the annual rate of change in the labor force has typically been negative with varying loss rates of -300 to -700. However, the rate of loss has been decreasing since mid-2014 and the labor force expanded slightly in early 2016, possibly due to the mild winter or better economic conditions.

Unemployment includes persons who are currently jobless, available for work and actively seeking for work in the past four weeks. A jobless person not seeking work is not considered part of the labor force and not counted as unemployed. As of June 2016, 2,700 were considered unemployed in Ashtabula County. The post-recession decrease of 4,000 in county unemployment would normally be regarded as a favorable occurrence, but nearly the same number stopped actively seeking work.

Ashtabula County’s unemployment rate has been decreasing since 2010. In June 2016, the average unemployment rate in Ashtabula County for the past 12 months averaged 6.1%, which was below the long-term average rate of 8.6%.

With a labor force of about 45,000, a change of 1% in the number of persons employed or unemployed in Ashtabula County represented a numerical change affecting 450 workers.

Unemployment and unemployment rates may be affected significantly by both hiring and labor force changes. When the unemployment rate drops and the number of unemployed persons decreases, it may be because more persons are hired, or because persons stop seeking work, or both. Since employment has remained virtually unchanged since 2010, the falling unemployment rate in Ashtabula County was largely due to persons leaving the labor force.

Download the report here: 2016-06 Empl-Unempl-pdf

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