Jobless rates across a large swath of northwest Ohio counties fell last month, even as the statewide unemployment rate and those in Lucas County and the City of Toledo ticked up, according to the state Department of Job and Family Services.
The April jobless rates in Toledo and Lucas County each went up a tenth of a percentage point, to 12.7 and 11.9 percent, respectively, state figures released Tuesday show. The upticks, which bucked the regional trend, were the result of increases for the city and county in the overall number of unemployed, which are tracked separately from the jobless rate.
Ohio's rate was 10.2 percent in April, up from 9.7 percent in March.
But in northwest Ohio, the unemployment rate in April declined in 12 of 16 counties, including in three of the hardest hit: Putnam, Ottawa, and Huron.
Williams County had the highest rate in the state, at 16.3 percent.
Toledo's rate was third among Ohio's largest 20 cities, behind only Youngstown at 13.9 percent and Mansfield at 12.8 percent, according to the state.
The overall estimated number of unemployed in northwest Ohio remained little changed in April at 99,000, just 100 fewer than the figure reported in March.
However, where the unemployed were located changed dramatically, as Lucas County reported an increase of 2,300 jobless, while Huron and Ottawa counties each reported 600 fewer and Putnam County 500 fewer unemployed last month than in March, state figures show.
Jim Coons, principal economist for Coons Advisors in Columbus, said the region should take any improvement in jobless rates with a grain of salt, but covet them at the same time.
"I think I would take the decline in the [regional] unemployment rate and hope it becomes a trend," he said.
"It would be a surprise if it does, because unemployment tends to lag."
The jobless rates can decline because more people have stopped looking for jobs and therefore aren't counted, he explained.
Northwest Ohio's strong ties to the automotive industry may prolong the economic downturn locally, he said.
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