Ashtabula County resident employment averaged 42,000 in August 2016, about the same level of average employment as 2010. However, employment showed stronger and more consistent growth in 2016 than in previous years and it reached an annual job creation rate of 300 (Not Seasonally Adjusted) in August 2016. 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 has grown slightly in 2016. The unemployment picture has improved over the past several years as the number of unemployed has dropped to under 3,000 and the unemployment rate has decreased to just over 6%. 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 Aug 2016 increased to 42,782, about 300 better than Aug 2015. The consistent employment growth in 2016 has begun to affect average employment.
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 has grown slightly in 2016.
Unemployment includes persons who are currently jobless, available for work and actively seeking a job 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 Aug 2016, 2,700 were considered unemployed in Ashtabula County. The post-recession decrease of 4,000 in unemployment would normally be regarded as a favorable occurrence, but nearly the same number stopped actively seeking work.