Unemployment rates dropped in half of the state's 88 counties in July compared to June, but one Ohio economist said the economic recovery in the state is still very weak.
"I'm guardedly happy about the figures. There's clearly been some rebound of the economy, recovery of the economy. With the recovery of the economy there's been some recovery of the jobs lost during the recession, and we can definitely point to some factors like the very strong rebounds from the very depressed levels of the auto sector that has a disproportionate effect on certain places in Ohio, like Toledo. That's all to the good," said Ken Mayland. of ClearView Economics in suburban Cleveland.
"The fact remains, however, that this has been the weakest recovery from a recession, whether mild or severe, in all of the post-World War II period. Maybe the weakest recovery from any recession ever," he added.
According to figures released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, in July the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate decreased in eight of the 16 counties that make up northwest Ohio, stayed the same in three others, and rose in five counties. The highest rate in northwest Ohio was 10.2 percent in Huron County, and the lowest was 5.7 percent in Putnam County.
The unemployment rate in Toledo rose to 9.1 percent in July, up 0.1 percentage point from June. Lucas County's unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.3 percent.
In Fulton County, the rate rose to 7.8 percent in July from 7.1 percent in June.
Lisa Arend, Fulton County economic development director, said the rise was temporary and largely attributable to the auto industry.
"We have a high number of auto jobs in the county and typically those auto [parts] plants shut down for two or three weeks in July during changeover," she said. Additionally, a plastic-container-making plant, Graham Packaging Co. of Delta, began closing down in July, eliminating about 65 jobs.
Statewide, the highest rate was 12.9 percent in Pike County, and the lowest was 4.4 percent in Mercer County.
Eight counties had rates at or below 6 percent and 10 counties had rates above 10 percent.
For all of Ohio, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held steady at 7.2 percent in July from June, while the national rate was 8.3 percent, up from 8.2 percent in June.
Mr. Mayland said the underlying weakness in the improving unemployment rates remains people who have stopped looking for work and dropped out of the labor pool.
"The labor force was down over the past year as well as the unemployment rate. People are just not being counted," he said.
"Some people have picked up and left for greener pastures in different states. But some people are just not looking for work," Mr. Mayland said. "In order to be counted as unemployed when the survey comes around you have to say you were actively looking for a job. If you are not actively seeking work you are not counted as actively employed, you're not counted as part of the labor force."
Contact Jon Chavez at: email@example.com or 419-724-6128.