The Mahoning Valley’s combined unemployment rate ticked down to a seasonally unadjusted rate of 8.3 percent in March, its lowest rate since December, according to data released Tuesday from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Last year at the same time, Valley unemployment stood at 8.4 percent.
Meanwhile, the region’s labor force shed 1,000 workers between March 2012 and March 2013, which might have accounted for the slight drop in unemployment.
State economists agree that job growth has been particularly robust in this part of the state, but the first three months of the year have failed to meet expectations as employers pull back the reins in the face of a tempered economic outlook brought on by slow growth overseas and federal budget cuts at home.
Still, the last time unemployment in the Valley dipped below 8.5 percent was in December, when it reached 7.7 percent. After that, a drop in seasonal employment and annual recalculations by JFS aimed at accuracy in the figures sent them trending upward.
Last month, Mahoning County’s jobless rate dropped from 8.6 percent a year earlier to 8.3 percent. The same was true in Columbiana County, where it fell to 8.2 percent in March, versus 8.6 percent the year before.
Across Ohio, the state’s March unemployment rate remained unchanged from February at 7.1 percent. Job growth has been slow this year compared with last.
In 2012, Ohio added 40,300 jobs, according to JFS figures. During the first three months of this year, though, Ohio has gained only 1,900 jobs.