US hits record low unemployment, Fayette under 4 percent

By Megan Neary -

On Friday, the Labor Department reported that the nation’s unemployment rate fell to a historic low of 3.7 percent in September. At 3.9 percent, Fayette County’s unemployment rate was only slightly higher than the national rate and was beneath the Ohio average of 4.65 percent.

When compared to nearby counties, according to August data, Fayette County’s rate was only slightly higher than Madison County’s rate of 3.7 percent and is tied with Pickaway County’s rate of 3.9. Fayette’s rate is lower than Greene County’s 4.0 percent, Ross County’s 4.3 percent, Clark County’s 4.4 percent, Clinton County’s 5.1 percent and Highland County’s 5.3 percent.

Ohio as a whole, however, has one of the highest unemployment rates of the country, according to August data. At 4.65 percent, Ohio’s ranks 47 when the states and the District of Columbia are ranked from lowest unemployment rate to highest. Within the state, there is a wide range in unemployment rates between counties, with the lowest rate belonging to Mercer County, which boasts just 2.8 percent unemployment while the highest unemployment rate belongs to Adams County at 6.7 percent.

The national unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since 1969. At this time, employment was fueled by the Vietnam war, a booming American auto industry, and the space program, according to the Associated Press. This record-setting unemployment rate is the result of the eight-and-a-half year streak of monthly job growth that has followed the Great Recession.

Fayette County offers an example of a county that has recovered from the recession. In 2010, the county’s unemployment rate was 13.5 percent.

Fayette County Commissioner Dan Dean said of the unemployment rates, “I’m pleased to hear that they’re as low as they are.” He said he believes unemployment has dropped so low thanks to economic growth, and he expects the local rate to remain low for some time because “the companies around here are all really searching very hard to find employees. The need for employees is real in Fayette County.”

As employers across the country are faced with an increasingly tight employment pool, some are raising wages to attract employees. In September, average hourly pay rose 2.8 percent and in a move that grabbed headlines, Amazon raised its minimum wage to $15 per hour this week. Amazon employees have reported, however, that they will lose their monthly bonuses and stock options, according to Bloomberg.

Although unemployment rates are low, the economy does show some weak spots, according to the Associated Press, who reported that “sales of existing homes have fallen over the past year, held back in part by higher mortgage rates. Auto sales have also slumped.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

By Megan Neary

Reach Megan Neary at 614-440-9124 or @MeganNeary2

Reach Megan Neary at 614-440-9124 or @MeganNeary2