LIMA — March jobless figures offer the first glimpse into how counties across Ohio are faring in this new era of mass unemployment: Mercer County still boasts the lowest jobless rate in Ohio, while Allen County claimed the highest unemployment rate in the region at 5.7%.
Van Wert saw the least change, with a 0.1 percentage point increase in its March jobless rate over February.
But the March figures are an undercount of the current unemployment situation in Ohio.
According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, there were 314,000 unemployed Ohioans in March, not including seasonal workers. That puts the state’s official jobless rate at 5.5% for the month. But weekly jobless figures previously released by Job and Family Services show at least 468,000 Ohioans applied for unemployment benefits in the last two weeks of March, far higher than the 73,000 new jobless claims counted in the monthly report.
All told, the state has received 855,197 new jobless claims from March 15 through April 11. That’s more than double the official jobless count for March.
The state has more initial unemployment applications in the last four weeks than it did in the previous two years combined, according to Job and Family Services data.