Central Ohio’s unemployment rate fell in March as employers slowly bring back the jobs that were lost during the early days of the pandemic.
The region’s unemployment rate fell to 5% from 5.4%, according to data released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The rate was 4.7% a year ago.
Cincinnati posted the lowest unemployment rate in March among the state’s metro areas at 4.2%. Cleveland had the next lowest rate at 4.9%.
The Columbus area added 6,500 jobs in March, led by a gain of 2,100 leisure and hospitality jobs, the hardest hit sector of the economy. The professional and business services sector and the government sector added 1,900 jobs apiece last month.
Though the unemployment rate is higher than Cincinnati and Cleveland, Columbus is bringing back jobs faster than its counterparts.
Columbus has 24,700 fewer jobs than it did a year ago while Cincinnati is in a hole of 50,800 jobs and Cleveland needs 60,800 jobs to get back to even.
The metro and county unemployment data are not adjusted for seasonal differences, so rates typically fall in the spring as the weather improves.
In March, unemployment rates fell in 86 of Ohio’s 88 counties and increased in two.
Union County, which posted the lowest unemployment rate in central Ohio in March, was one of nine counties in Ohio with an unemployment rate of 3.5%.
Union’s rate was 3.4% in March followed by 3.8% in Delaware and Licking counties and 3.9% in Madison County.
Morrow County’s unemployment rate was 4.1% March. Next was a 4.2% rate for Pickaway County and 4.6% rates for Fairfield and Hocking County.
Perry and Franklin counties tied for the highest rate in the region among the counties at 5.5%. The rate for Columbus was 5.7%.
The unemployment rate for Franklin County and Columbus typically mirror the rate for the metro area. But since the pandemic, unemployment rates for cities have been running higher.
Holmes County in northeast Ohio had the lowest unemployment rate in the state in March at 2.4%.
Monroe and Mahoning counties tied for the highest unemployment rate at 6.6%.