The Mahoning Valley’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 percent in February, according to figures released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.
The data showed the Valley’s jobless rate decreased last month from 9.5 percent a year earlier.
Although the numbers are not adjusted to account for a sharp drop in employment during the winter months, February’s numbers are considered more reliable than January’s, with further revisions from ODJFS reflected in the data.
Last month, the agency reported the Valley’s unemployment rate stood at 9.5 percent, an increase most economists expected heading out of seasonal hiring during the holidays and slightly skewed by an annual revision process to ensure better accuracy in the months ahead.
Mahoning County’s jobless rate improved, dropping from 9.2 percent last year to 8.4 percent last month. February’s data showed the county’s labor force decreased by 1,400 workers.
A shrinking labor force was evident across the Valley, which likely aided a drop in unemployment rates last month.
In Columbiana County, unemployment dropped nearly a percentage point, finishing February at 8.6 percent, down from 9.3 percent in February 2012. The labor force there declined by 600 workers as well, according to ODJFS.
Trumbull County’s jobless rate declined slightly, going from 8.7 percent last year to 8.5 percent in February, while the labor force also dropped by 600 workers.
Statewide, unemployment was unchanged in February, staying at 7 percent.
Ohio managed to add 16,100 jobs last month, but a rise of 2,000 unemployed workers help to stay the overall jobless rate.
Overall, the state’s job growth in February was slower than the U.S. national average.