LIMA — Unemployment rose across the region in December, according to data released by the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services on Wednesday.
All nine counties saw an increase in their unemployment rates, even as the state’s unemployment rate remained flat at 4.6 percent.
Putnam and Logan counties saw the largest month-to-month increase, both up 1.0 percent in December over November. Allen County had the largest unemployment rate in December, at 4.7 percent, and was the only county with a higher unemployment rate than the state average.
But November was also a record month for Allen County. Unemployment fell to its lowest level (3.9 percent) since 2000, and the number of unemployed people actively seeking employment fell to 1,900 – another record. December saw 2,200 unemployed people seeking work in Allen County.
Mercer (3.1 percent), Auglaize (3.6 percent), Hancock (3.8 percent) and Van Wert (3.9 percent) counties had some of the lowest unemployment rates across Ohio in December, but those counties also saw an increase in unemployment to end the year. In fact, all nine counties ended 2018 with higher or flat unemployment rates when compared to December 2017.
The state saw strong job growth in 2018, but that growth slowed as the year came to a close.
“The private sector lost 500 jobs in December, with a large decline in the retail sector (4,300 lost jobs), even during the Christmas season,” Andrew Kidd, an economist with the conservative think tank The Buckeye Institute, said in a press release last week. “This is on top of an unchanged labor force participation rate and a flat unemployment rate from November.”
But Kidd said the state’s private sector added 104,800 new jobs over the course of 2018, which he said is the largest since the 1990s.
“Of continuing concern is Ohio’s labor force,” Kidd added. “The unemployment rate only fell slightly this year from 4.9 percent to 4.6 percent, while the labor force actually shrunk … If families are unable to find work and leave the state in search of better opportunities, it draws into question whether Ohio can sustain its job growth numbers.”
Policy Matters Ohio, a liberal think tank, attributed the state’s slowing job growth to an end of a stimulus produced by federal tax cuts.
“Last year’s federal tax cuts demonstrate how stimulus can shore up a sluggish economy,” Policy Matters Ohio said in a press release. “Because those tax cuts were poorly targeted and inefficient, too much of the gains went to the wealthiest and to corporate stock buybacks.” The organization recommends “smarter stimulus” in infrastructure and workforce training.
Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.