By TOM GIAMBRONI
LISBON - Columbiana County's unemployment rate dropped to 7.1 percent, in December, its lowest level in more than a year.
The unemployment rate dropped from 8 percent in November to 7.1 percent last month, according to figures released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The jobless rate was last this low in October 2012, when it dropped to 7 percent before steadily rising again.
The nearly 1 percent decline represents the largest one-month decline since February 2013, when the jobless rate dropped from 9.9 percent to 8.6 percent. And for the first time in a while, the county's unemployment rate was lower than the state's, which dropped from 7.4 percent to 7.2 percent last month. The national jobless rate declined from 7.1 percent to 6.7 percent.
According to the state, an estimated 3,600 countians were unemployed in December, a decline of 500 from the previous month. This left 47,200 county residents with jobs, an increase of 100 from November.
The unemployment rate declined despite in an increase in new filings for employment benefits, which jumped from 551 to 672 in December, and an increase in the number of residents continuing to receive benefits over the same period, from 2,190 to 3,809. The average weekly benefit in December was $329.
The jobless rate is an estimate based on a formula that depends largely on the number of people receiving unemployment benefits and a nationwide monthly phone survey of 50,000 households, including 2,000 in Ohio.
Among the adjoining Ohio counties, Columbiana County's rate was lower than Mahoning (7.6 percent) Carroll (7.2 percent) and Jefferson (8.8 percent), but higher than Stark (6.9 percent).
The county's December unemployment rate was the 39th highest among Ohio's 88 counties. Monroe County, in southern Ohio, again had the highest jobless rate at 14.6 percent, while Mercer County along the Indiana border continued to have the lowest unemployment rate at 3.8 percent.