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County jobless rate soars over 20 percent

LISBON — The latest unemployment figures are in for Columbiana County and they are bad. Really bad.

The county’s unemployment rate skyrocketed from 6 percent in March to 20.4 percent last month, something likely not seen since the recession of the early 1980s or during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

While the increase was startling, it was not unexpected, because March’s 6 percent figure was based on data collected during the pay period ending March 14. That was just after Gov. Mike DeWine shut down schools but before he ordered the closure of non-essential businesses and told Ohioans to stay home. For that reason, officials expected April’s figures would provide a clearer picture of the job losses in the wake of the pandemic.

The figures were released Wednesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family, which also reported the state unemployment rate more than tripled, from 5.5 percent in March to 16.8 percent last month. The national rate jumped from 4.4 percent to 14.7 percent, the highest since the Great Depression.

The formula used to determine the unemployment rate estimated the number of jobless in the county increased from 2,800 in March to 9,600 in April. The estimated number of county residents with jobs plummeted from 47,200 to 37,600 over the same period.

The actual figures are just as bad, if not worse. The number of countians receiving unemployment benefits, which stood at 2,147 in February, increased to 6,826 in March and reached 22,787 in April. The average weekly benefit was $334 in April.

The county’s jobless rate was tied for the 11th highest among Ohio’s 88 counties. Among adjoining Ohio counties, the county’s rate was higher than Mahoning (20.1 percent), Stark (16.2 percent), Carroll (16.9 percent) and Jefferson (18.1 percent).

tgiambroni@mojonews.com

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