LIMA — The Great Recession may be in the past, but for a significant number of people in the region, the sting of unemployment is still a present reality, according to the latest unemployment numbers released by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Unemployment figures either stayed the same or saw a slight increase in every county in the region. Allen, Auglaize, Putnam, and Van Wert counties all maintained the same unemployment levels in November that were reported the month before, with Hancock, Hardin, Logan, Mercer and Shelby counties all seeing increases of less than 1 percentage point.
Unemployment in the city of Lima currently sits at 8.8 percent, with 1,400 members of the city’s 16,000-strong labor force out of work.
With a total workforce of 233,500 in the nine-county area, there were 14,400 unemployed people, a rate of 6.2 percent. This puts the region ahead of the statewide rate, which currently sits at 7.3 percent.
Part of this can be attributed to the strong showings from Auglaize and Mercer counties. Mercer County currently holds an unemployment rate of 4.4 percent, the lowest of any county in the state and one of only two counties with unemployment below 5 percent. Auglaize County comes in at 5.1 percent, the second-strongest in the region.
Compared to numbers from November of last year, nearly every county in the region, with the exception of Van Wert County, has seen an increase in unemployment rates, with Allen County’s unemployment numbers up almost a full percentage point in that period. Van Wert County saw a slight decrease of 0.3 percentage point over the past 12 months.
Members of the Van Wert County Economic Development Group attributed the decline to capital investments as well as new job creation. According to a report released by Cynthia Leis, Van Wert County Economic Development Director, the county’s top 30 employers saw a net job increase of 120 over the past nine months, indicating an upward trend in job creation in the county.
Leis also wrote that attracting as well as retaining new jobs will be a top priority in 2014, with plans on completing the certification process for a 1,600-acre industrial mega-site in the county.