Unemployment drops 2 percent in Valley
By Kristen Russo
There were 30,100 unemployed workers living in the Mahoning Valley last month.
In February, the Valley’s unemployment rate was 11.2 percent.
Compared with a year ago, when the Valley had 37,000 unemployed workers and a 13.6-percent unemployment rate, it’s a more than 2-percent drop.
Those numbers include Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties.
Though unemployment also is down slightly from January 2011, when it was at 11.6 percent, it still is higher than December 2010’s rate of 10.5 percent.
In Youngstown, there were 3,400 unemployed workers in February, or an unemployment rate of 11.9 percent. That’s down from a 12.5-percent unemployment rate in January, but still higher than the 11.2-percent unemployment rate in December 2010.
The city’s February unemployment rate is a 2-percent drop from its 13.9-percent unemployment rate a year ago.
Youngstown had 3,900 unemployed workers in February 2010.
“The good news is that there’s been some improvement in the unemployment; the bad news is that a number of people are still coming to the food bank, and many of those people are seniors,” said Michael Iberis, executive director of the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley.
Iberis said the food bank was serving about 12,000 people per week at the end of last year.
In January and February of this year, Iberis said that number increased by about 5 percent.
The food bank also has seen a gradual but steady increase in the number of seniors seeking assistance due to rising food costs, Iberis said.
Gloria Matthews, communications assistant for the Mahoning County One-Stop, said although unemployment is still high, the One-Stop has received a steady stream of job orders.
“It’s looking more solid than it did,” Matthews said.
Matthews said most of the inquiries the One-Stop has received have been from companies seeking a small number of employees.
“It’s all moving in the right direction. It’s not huge. It’s not dramatic. ... But it’s steady,” she said.
Earlier this week, hhgregg announced it was hiring 50 workers to staff its new Boardman location, and MAC Trailer, a steel and aluminum-trailer manufacturer with locations in Salem and Alliance, announced it would hire at least 100 employees by June.
Unemployment remains high in Warren as well.
In February, Warren’s unemployment rate was 10.9 percent, down from 13.5 percent in February 2010 and 11.2 percent in January 2011.
The February rate is almost equal to the city’s unemployment rate in December 2010, which was 10.8 percent.
Warren had 2,000 unemployed workers last month.
In Ohio, the February unemployment rate was 9.2 percent, down slightly from 9.3 percent in January. The state’s unemployment rate was 10.6 percent a year ago.
Ohio had 542,000 unemployed workers in February.