Ohio's jobless rate dipped to 5.9 percent last month from 6.5 percent in November, and 11 of 17 local counties either had declining or unchanged unemployment for the month, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
The state's unemployment rate for December was lower than a year earlier, when the joblessness was 6.2 percent. Locally, though, unemployment rates last month were higher than a year ago in five of the 17 counties.
Northwest Ohio unemployment rates in December ranged from a high of 10.3 percent in Huron County - where a number of residents were temporarily idled from auto-related jobs - to a low of 3.7 percent in Van Wert County. The jobless rate was 6.6 percent in Lucas, one of 55 counties statewide with an unemployment drop in December compared to November.
The state's jobless rate has fluctuated recently, but December's 5.9 percent mark is a good reflection of Ohio's economy, according to the department. The U.S. unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in December and November.
"Certainly we see ourselves being fairly stable," said Keith Ewald, the department's labor market chief.
Still, Ohio had 7,500 fewer jobs in December than November, the department said. The biggest drop was in service-providing industries, losing 6,800 professional, transportation, and other jobs.
In the last 12 months, Ohio has lost 200 jobs. Some employment categories had job increases, led by construction with 8,900; they were more than offset by losses of 5,100 factory positions and posts in other segments. Though Ohio's December unemployment rate declined from November and a year ago, so did the number of people in the state's labor force and the number of those employed, noted James Coons, a Columbus area economist.
"This is not as strong of a report as it could have been," he said. "It's a positive sign that the unemployment rate has come down, but not as positive as if it had been a result of strong job growth."
In Lucas County, for example, there were 1,500 fewer residents in the labor force in December than a year earlier, as well as 200 less employed. That includes 1,200 fewer Toledoans in the labor force and 100 less with jobs.
Meanwhile, Seneca County had 1,900 more residents in the labor force last month than a year earlier and 1,700 more people employed.
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