Local unemployment rates made big improvements in May, with Youngstown posting its lowest rate since September 2008, and Mahoning County making its best showing since October 2008, although with fewer workers in the labor pool.
Youngstown's 9.5 percent preliminary rate was its its best since since 9.3 percent in September 2008, before the worst of the Great Recession, according to a report by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The county's 7.4 percent was its lowest since 7.3 percent in October 2008.
Youngstown's rate a year ago was 11.5 percent, while the county's rate was 9.3 percent.
The results, however, came off a dramatically lower base of job-seekers - 25,600 in Youngstown from 29,100 in September 2008; the county's labor pool tumbled to 111,500 from 115,400 in October 2008. Experts contend the declining labor pool shows that many workers have given up looking for jobs due to the weak economic recovery.
Neighboring Warren showed similar results. Warren's 8.3 percent preliminary rate was its best since the same number in May 2008, and Trumbull County came in at 7.2 percent, lowest since 6.5 percent in May 2008.
The latest report shows substantial improvement from the same month in 2011, when Warren's jobless rate was 10.1 percent and the county's was 9.2 percent.
The work force eroded to 17,600 versus 19,300 in September 2008 in Warren and 100,100 compared to 104,900 in Trumbull County.
The metropolitan Trumbull and Mahoning counties rates improved to 7.3 percent, lowest since 7.2 percent in September 2008 and down from 9.2 percent in May 2011.
Ohio and U.S. rates showed mixed results, with Ohio dropping to 7.3 percent from 7.4 percent in April, but the nation rising to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent.
County and city rates are compared year-over-year because they're not adjusted for seasonal trends, such as construction hiring in the spring and layoffs of holiday workers after Christmas.