LIMA — January saw an uptick in unemployment across Ohio and the Lima region, but not by much.
Ohio’s unemployment rate rose slightly to 4.7 percent, up from 4.6 percent in December and 4.5 percent in January 2018. January was the first month since May 2018 that Ohio’s unemployment rose at all.
Locally, Allen County and the surrounding counties saw their unemployment rates rise by 0.1 to 0.7 percentage points in January, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released on Tuesday.
Allen and Hardin counties had the highest unemployment rates in the region in January, both reaching 5.1 percent. Hardin County saw the largest month over month increase in unemployment, rising from 4.4 percent in December to 5.1 percent in January.
Mercer County, meanwhile, continues to have the lowest unemployment rate in Ohio at 3.2 percent in January. Auglaize, Van Wert and Hancock counties also made the top 10 counties with the lowest unemployment rates in the state, with Putnam County not far behind.
While unemployment was up slightly, Ohio saw the creation of 20,300 new private-sector jobs in January concentrated in the trade, transportation and utilities, leisure and hospitality, and education and health care sectors.
But Ohio’s unemployment rate continues to exceed the national average, which reached 4 percent in January and fell to 3.8 percent in February, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates.
The state started breaking away from the national average in the late half of 2016, when the U.S. unemployment rate fell below 5 percent, while Ohio’s unemployment rate remained at or above 5 percent until the fall of 2017. It has stayed relatively flat since that time, fluctuating between 4.5 percent and 4.9 percent, even as the U.S. unemployment rate fell below 4 percent in 2018.