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Published: Wednesday, 12/24/2008

Toledo's jobless rate is tops among Ohio big cities

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

More than 1 in 10 Toledoans who are able to work can't find a job, the highest the city's unemployment rate has been since 1992 and the highest unemployment rate for any major city in Ohio.

A state report of jobless figures in the 88 Ohio counties and in 20 Ohio cities, released yesterday, showed unemployment rates rose, in some cases dramatically, in 14 of 15 northwest Ohio counties.

Three of the seven counties in the state whose rates exceeded 10 percent last month were in northwest Ohio.

Van Wert County, at 10.9 percent, had the highest rate among the state's counties. Rates in Huron and Ottawa counties also surpassed 10 percent.

Toledo, at 10.3 percent, was the only city over the 10 percent threshold, with Youngstown at 9.6 percent and Cleveland and Dayton each at 8.9 percent among the big cities.

Lucas County, at 9.5 percent, approached the double-digit threshhold, marking its highest figure since 1992. The county had 21,700 people unemployed, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said.

"This is what recessions do. This is the human side of recessions," said economist Ken Mayland of ClearView Economics LLC in suburban Cleveland.

"It's more than a decline in [Gross Domestic Product]; the human side of it is job loss, and I'd love to say this is as bad as it gets, but that's clearly not the case. Things are going to get substantially worse before they get better."

Credit for the dire picture, experts say, stems from the national recession and the ailing automotive industry, which has produced massive temporary and permanent layoffs at factories throughout Ohio.

The county rates reflect the number of people out of jobs from the total adult-age work force, but that means a relatively small number of additional jobless people can boost a rural county's rate substantially. Van Wert County, for example, had 1,700 unemployed last month, up 100 from the month before, but its rate climbed from 9.9 percent to 10.9 percent, the state report said.

The rate climbed proportionately even more in Ottawa County, up to 10.3 percent from 8.3 percent the month before.

The November unemployment rates in other big urban counties in Ohio were 7.1 percent in Cuyahoga, 5.8 percent in Franklin, 6 percent in Hamilton, 7.3 percent in Lorain, 7.7 percent in Mahoning, 7.9 percent in Montgomery, and 6.4 percent in Summit.

Among the 20 cities cited in the state's report, Toledo saw its rate jump past 10 percent for the third time this year, state figures show, but the last time it was higher than November was in July, 1992, at 10.9 percent.

The November rates in other big cities in Ohio were 7.1 percent in Akron, 6.3 percent in Cincinnati, and 5.8 percent in Columbus.

Mr. Mayland, the economist who watches Ohio's economy extensively, said any potential recovery won't come until at least the second half of 2009.

"But between now and then, we're looking at substantially more job losses," he said. "We know there are now going to be widespread shutdowns in the auto industry in December and January, and you're not even seeing that yet."

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at:

lvellequette@theblade.com

or 419-724-6091.



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