April’s jobless rates at lowest in over 10 years

Dwindling labor force thought to be biggest reason for change

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  • The unemployment rates in Toledo and Lucas County fell to their lowest April levels in more than a decade, though that is largely explained by a shrinking labor force.

    State officials said Tuesday that Lucas County’s estimated unemployment rate for April was 5.7 percent, down from 6.6 percent in March and 8.2 percent in April, 2013.

    Toledo’s estimated unemployment rate was 6.2 percent last month, down from 7.1 percent in March and 8.8 percent in April, 2013.

    Because the monthly rates are not seasonally adjusted, economists pay more attention to year-over-year changes than they do month-to-month changes.

    Compared with last April, the county added about 1,400 jobs, while the labor force shrunk by 300 people. Over the last year, Lucas County’s labor force shrunk by 3,600 while employment grew by 1,600.

    The last time unemployment rates were this low in April was 2001. Toledo’s unemployment rate was 5.2 percent that month.

    The state says Toledo’s labor force — the number of people working or actively looking for work — was 149,800 in April, 2001. Last month it was 126,900. People typically leave the labor force by moving, retiring, or becoming frustrated enough to give up looking for work.

    Toledo’s population was 314,900 in 2001, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The most recent census numbers, from 2012, put it at 284,012.

    In April, 2001, Toledo had 142,100 people employed. Last month, there were 119,100, according to the state.

    Other area counties also saw their unemployment rates drop dramatically last month. In Fulton County, April’s unemployment rate was 5.7 percent, down from 7.3 percent in March and 8.2 percent in April, 2013. In Ottawa County, the April unemployment rate was 7.4 percent, down from 10.1 percent in March and 9.4 percent a year earlier. In Wood County, the April unemployment rate was 4.9 percent, down from 5.8 percent in March and 6.8 percent in April, 2013.

    The jobless rate fell in all 88 Ohio counties last month. Figures ranged from 3 percent in Mercer County (along the Indiana border) to 10.7 percent in Monroe County, which is along the Ohio River in the southeastern quadrant of the state.

    Unemployment rates have been consistently falling this year across Ohio. The state’s unemployment rate in April was a seasonally adjusted 5.7 percent.