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Published: Wednesday, 7/25/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Jobless rate rises in all but 3 Ohio counties

But seasonal adjustment shows ongoing downtrend in June

BY TYREL LINKHORN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

The unemployment rate rose in June from May in 85 of Ohio's 88 counties, although economists said the spike is no indication that Ohio's recovery is weakening.

"That is a normal thing in Ohio to increase those rates between May and June. That's taken account of in the seasonal adjustment," George Mokrzan, director of economics with Huntington Bancshares, said.

Ohio's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continued to inch downward in June, dropping to 7.2 percent from 7.3 percent in May.

However, unadjusted jobless numbers that were released Tuesday for Ohio's cities, counties, and metropolitan areas showed just the opposite -- unemployment rates creeping up.

Lucas County's June unemployment rate, for example, was 8.3 percent in June, up from 7.8 percent in May. Metro Toledo's rate was 8.1 percent in June, up from 7.6 percent in May.

But Mr. Mokrzan cautioned against inferring too much from month-to-month comparisons.

"Ohio employment growth has been tremendous," he said. "You see that especially on a year-over-year basis, which I think is the best way to look at it."

From June, 2011, to June, 2012, Ohio has added 100,000 jobs. Metro Toledo added 1,700 jobs in that time frame, and the metro region's unemployment rate dropped to 8.1 percent from 10 percent.

Officials at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said Ohio employers added 18,400 jobs from May to June, trailing only California in terms of new-job growth.

Reconciling Tuesday's county jobless numbers, Benjamin Johnson, a spokesman for Job and Family Services, said the reason unemployment rates spiked in June is primarily that recent high school and college graduates just began looking for work.

It's that sort of regular, cyclical changes in the job market that seasonal adjusting attempts to smooth out for the sake of comparison, he said.

"We see this influx of new workers into the labor force and that increase in the labor force can often drive not seasonally adjusted unemployment up because those people were not previously looking for work," he said.

Mr. Mokrzan also attributed much of the June increase to recent graduates.

Overall, he said, Ohio's job growth is outpacing the United States average, especially in the manufacturing sector.

Over the past 12 months, manufacturing employment in Ohio grew 3.9 percent, compared with a 1.9 percent growth in the United States.

Ohio's unemployment rate is also notably lower than the U.S. rate.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Ohio's 7.2 percent rate is a full percentage point lower than the U.S. rate. Mr. Mokrzan said it's the first time since 1995 that Ohio's rate has been that much lower than the U.S. rate.

"To me it seems it's indicative there are some fundamental changes, some fundamental improvements in competitiveness," he said. "As long as that's maintained, that should help Ohio's economy continue to outperform here for a while."

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at: tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.



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