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Published: Wednesday, 5/26/2010

Jobless rates fall in April across region

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Jobless rates dropped across much of northwest Ohio in April but remain higher than they were a year ago, according to figures released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Lucas County's jobless rate fell to 12.2 percent in April from 12.8 percent in March, the state report shows.

The unemployment rate for the city of Toledo fell to 12.7 percent from 13.3 percent in March, the department said.

During April, 2009, Lucas County's jobless rate was 11.3 percent and the city's was 12 percent.

Unemployment rates dropped in every county in northwest Ohio in April, including large improvements in two of the region's hardest-hit counties.

In Ottawa County, the rate fell 3.9 percentage points to 14 percent in April and in Huron County it decreased by 2.3 percentage points to 14.5 percent.

Both counties have recorded the state's worst unemployment rate at various times during the current economic downturn, with both exceeding 18 percent at times.

Fulton County also had a sharp improvement in its rate, which fell 1.8 percentage points from March to an April rate of 12.6 percent.

Wood County's rate decreased by half a percentage point to 11.1 percent last month, the department said.

As a region, northwest Ohio posted a rate slump to a flat 12 percent in April, still more than a full percentage point higher than Ohio's rate of 10.9 percent and higher than the national rate of 9.9 percent.

An estimated 79,400 unemployed workers across northwest Ohio are actively seeking jobs, the department said.

A separate monthly survey of business establishments across Ohio recorded an increase of 37,300 nonfarm jobs in April, the largest increase of any state.

County-level estimates aren't compiled monthly, but metro area figures are, and in the Toledo area, jobs increased by 1,900 in April to 295,300.

That is a decline of 37,900 nonfarm jobs since April, 2006, according to survey estimates.

George Mokrzan, chief economist for Huntington Bancshares in Columbus, said the falling unemployment numbers and Ohio's rising nonfarm employment levels are "very good news" for the state and the region.

"It does indicate that there are some fundamentally sound industries that were slowed down temporarily, but not completely shut down, by the recession," he said.

"When you have a sharp recession, manufacturing gets hit very hard, harder than the service sector. But when it bounces back, it tends to bounce back first and sharper, even more than the rest of the economy."

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at:

lvellequette@theblade.com

or 419-724-6091.



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