By Grace Wyler
The Mahoning Valley’s unemployment rate edged up slightly last month with 300 more people joining the ranks of the jobless in October, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported Tuesday.
The combined unemployment rate for Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties was 10.9 percent last month, a marginal increase from September’s rate of 10.8 percent. Still, joblessness continues to fall from 2009 levels, with October’s rate down from 12.7 percent unemployment a year earlier.
“We are holding steady,” said Jessica Borza, chief operating officer for One-Stop employment agencies in Mahoning and Columbiana counties. “There have been some fluctuations over the past few months — we are seeing jobs come back, although it has still been at a slow pace.”
Despite last month’s apparent slowdown in employment gains, there are positive signs that unemployment will continue to decrease in 2011, Borza said.
“The current work force is operating at mass capacity,” she said. “At some point that is going to have to break, and employers are going to have to start hiring.”
The slight rise in the tri-county unemployment rate mirrored statewide trends, with 71 of Ohio’s 88 counties reporting increased unemployment last month.
Overall, Ohio’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dipped to 9.9 percent in October from 10 percent in September, falling into single-digit percentages for the first time since March 2009. Regional unemployment data do not account for seasonal variations.
The national joblessness rate remained steady at 9.6 percent.
Locally, Trumbull County’s unemployment rate was 11 percent in October, up from 10.8 percent the previous month. But joblessness remained well below the October 2009 rate of 13.4 percent.
Columbiana County joblessness crept up to 11.3 percent last month from 11.2 percent in September. The unemployment rate was 13.2 percent in October 2009.
Mahoning County joblessness remained unchanged at 10.7 percent last month. The county’s unemployment rate was down from 12 percent a year earlier.
In Youngstown, unemployment was 12.3 percent in October, down from 12.5 percent the previous month. Youngstown’s unemployment rate was 14 percent in October 2009.
Similarly, Warren’s unemployment rate was down last month, dipping to 11.4 percent from 11.5 percent in September.
The city’s joblessness continues to decline compared with 2009, when the October unemployment rate was 14.8 percent.