LIMA — Allen County’s unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent in November — the lowest rate the region has seen since late 2000, according to the latest labor market data.
Numbers pulled from as far back as 1970 show the county has recorded such low unemployment only three times in the last 48 years — in 1973, 1974 and 2000. The latest 3.9 percent rate is the fourth, according to statistics for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
In comparison, Ohio’s unemployment rate was recorded at 4.6 percent for November 2018, and the national unemployment rate was 3.7 percent.
As for surrounding counties, Mercer County once again grabbed the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 2.4 percent. Auglaize (2.9 percent) and Putnam (3.0 percent) counties joined Mercer among the six counties in the state with unemployment rates at or below 3.0 percent in November.
The number of unemployed people seeking work in November in Allen County was 1,900 — an all-time low.
Allen County Department of Jobs and Family Services Director Joe Patton said some of Allen County’s reduction can be attributed to changes made by the department to ensure services such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, aren’t merely just a transaction but the service works to help someone find gainful employment.
The latest data puts the number of those using food assistance in Allen County at 5,500 households — a decrease of roughly 2,500 since 2012.
“I can say that the people that moved off food stamps, they’ve had to move off to something else,” Patton said.
Patton gave an example of someone who may be working 30 hours a week to receive benefits. By talking with such an individual and pushing them to find new opportunities, ACJFS can help them apply to one of the 500 companies the agency works with in order to increase their income and transition into a better life, Patton said.
Allen County’s low unemployment rate is also partially a reflection of a reduced labor force. Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services estimates 47,600 individuals made up Allen County’s labor force this November, a 1,300 reduction from numbers posted in November 2017. Labor force estimates have drifted steadily downward since the “Great Recession” in 2008, when it hovered close to 52,000.
Prior to 2014, the last time Allen County had such a diminished labor force was in the early 1970s.
ODJFS defines the labor force as “civilians 16 years of age and over who are working or seeking work.”
The last time the Allen County’s unemployment rate dipped below 4 percent in 2000, median household income was set at $37,048 — or $53,297 in 2017 dollars, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation calculator. According to latest census data, median household income in Allen County in 2017 was recorded at $47,905.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.