Lucas Co. jobless rate rises 0.7% in January

3/12/2014
BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Chandler, left, and Chelsea Haar, twins from Luckey, Ohio, who are licensed massage therapists, fill out applications at  a Stautzenberger College job fair in Maumee. Manpower Inc. says the job outlook is improving, with 19 percent of Toledo-area firms it surveyed cite plans to hire more workers.
Chandler, left, and Chelsea Haar, twins from Luckey, Ohio, who are licensed massage therapists, fill out applications at a Stautzenberger College job fair in Maumee. Manpower Inc. says the job outlook is improving, with 19 percent of Toledo-area firms it surveyed cite plans to hire more workers.

Lucas County’s estimated unemployment rate jumped 0.7 of a percentage point in January, rising to 8.1 percent from 7.4 in December, according to figures released Tuesday by state officials.


Although a significant jump from a month earlier, the January numbers were down 2 full percentage points from a year earlier, according to data from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Also, the rise from month to month was not unexpected, one unemployment expert said.

“January always sees a drop. It’s due to the seasonal workers hired for the holidays,” said Mike Veh, work force development manager at The Source of Northwest Ohio, Lucas County’s one-stop shop for unemployment services.

“They’re temporary. Once the holiday season is over they hit the job market that way. But compared to last year, we’re in significantly better shape,” Mr. Veh said.

Toledo’s unemployment rate also rose in January to 8.6 from 8.0 in December. But it too was down from January, 2013, when the city rate was 10.8.

Both rates are not seasonally adjusted, and economists say year-over-year comparisons give a truer indication of what is happening in job markets.

Also, each year state and federal officials revise jobless numbers and upgrade data gathered from survey information to reflect numbers based on tax records. The revisions for this year paint a rosier picture that shows Ohio added twice as many jobs last year — 51,000 — as previously reported.

Mr. Veh said generally after the January rise in unemployment with the layoff of temporary holiday workers, the unemployment rate usually goes back down in February with the seasonal hiring factor removed.

“Some holiday workers do have the potential to stay on, but this year that number may have declined,” he said. “I know from what we’re seeing that job activity around here has picked up of late, so I’m waiting to see the February numbers.

“That will be a better indication of which way we’re going from here,” Mr. Veh said.

Jobless rates also rose in January in the surrounding counties.

In Fulton County, the January rate was 8.6 percent, up from 7.3 percent in December, but down from 10.9 percent a year earlier.

In Wood County, the rate rose to 6.8 percent from 6.3 percent but was down from 8.3 percent a year earlier, while in Ottawa County, the rate rose to 12.1 percent in January from 11.5 in December, but was down from 14.3 percent a year earlier.

Overall, the unemployment rate rose in all 16 of northwest Ohio’s counties. The rates ranged from a high of 12.4 percent in Huron County to a low of 5.7 percent in Hancock County.

While its unemployment rate was rising in January, metro Toledo got an upbeat job forecast from Manpower Inc., the temporary hiring firm.

In a report released Tuesday, Manpower said its second quarter Employment Outlook Survey of 18,000 employers in 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico found that employers expect to pick up the hiring pace from April to June in the metro Toledo area.

According to the employers surveyed by Manpower in the Toledo area, 19 percent plan to hire more workers while just 3 percent expect to reduce their staffs. An additional 76 plan to maintain their current levels. According to Manpower, that creates a net employment outlook of 16 percent.

In the previous Manpower survey, only 14 percent expected to hire more workers in the first quarter while 8 percent were planning to reduce staffing and 74 percent were going to maintain their workforce levels for a net outlook of just 6 percent.

A year ago, the Manpower survey showed that for the second quarter of 2013, 17 percent of companies planned to hire, 4 percent were reducing staff, and 75 percent were maintaining staffing levels for a net outlook of 13 percent.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.