In the three years of economic boom leading up to the recession, the nation’s unemployment rate fell from a high of 5.8 percent in 2004 to a low of 4.4 percent in 2007, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The lower the rate gets, the better it is, as more of the people who want a job have one. Conversely, the higher the rate gets, the worse things are considered, as more people are struggling to find work.
When the recession officially began in December 2007, the nation’s unemployment rate was 5.0 percent. By December 2008, it had risen to 7.3 percent. While officially, the recession is considered to have ended by mid-2009, the U.S. jobless rate rose still further — to 9.9 percent that December.
By December 2010, the rate had improved a bit, dipping to 9.3 percent. By December 2011, it was a bit better, at 8.5 percent, and by last month, it was down to 7.8 percent.
Lots of people still are looking for jobs, however.
Nationwide, 12.2 million people still were seeking work in December 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. An additional 1.1 million people in December were considered “discouraged” workers who, according to the bureau, “are not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.”
On the plus side, employment did rise by 155,000 in December, the bureau said.
“Employment increased in health care, food services and drinking places, construction, and manufacturing,” it said.
In the six counties of the Tri-State area, nearly 19,000 people still were looking for jobs in November or December, according to The Herald-Mail’s review of the numbers.
And since the recession began, the jobless rate was at its highest in five of the six counties during the same month — February 2010, the newspaper found. Fulton County’s rates for that period weren’t immediately available.
For comparison, here are the numbers:
• Washington County — The jobless rate was 3.9 percent in December 2007, when 2,707 people were looking for work, according to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. The rate peaked at 12.4 percent, with 8,570 unemployed in February 2010. By November 2012, the latest month for which numbers are available, the rate was 8.1 percent, with 5,620 people unemployed.
• Franklin County, Pa. — The jobless rate was 3.9 percent in December 2007, when about 3,200 people were looking for work, according to the nonprofit business recruitment Franklin County Area Development Corp. The rate peaked at 9.1 percent in February 2010, when about 7,400 people were hunting jobs. By November 2012, the rate was 6.4 percent, with about 5,300 people unemployed.
• Fulton County, Pa. — The jobless rates couldn’t be immediately found, but, according to the Pennsylvania Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, the county’s jobless rate was 8.9 percent in November 2011, with about 600 people looking for work. By November 2012, the rate had improved to 8.7 percent, with more people working, but about 600 unemployed.
• Berkeley County, W.Va. — The unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in December 2007, when 1,620 people were looking for jobs, according to WorkForce West Virginia. The rate peaked at 10.4 percent in February 2010, with 4,620 people hunting jobs. The rate released Friday for December 2012 was 6.2 percent, with 2,770 people looking.
• Jefferson County, W.Va. — The jobless rate was 2.5 percent in December 2007, when 620 people were hunting work, WorkForce West Virginia said. The rate peaked at 7.9 percent in February 2010, with 1,840 looking for jobs. The rate for December 2012 was 4.8 percent, with 1,200 people looking.
• Morgan County, W.Va. — The unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in December 2007, with 310 people looking for jobs, WorkForce West Virginia said. The rate peaked at 11.6 percent in February 2010, with 770 people looking. The rate for December 2012 was 7.2 percent, with 510 people looking.