LIMA — Unemployment rates improved in eight northwest Ohio counties during the month of August, according to figures released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Allen County’s unemployment rate saw the largest decline, going from 5.3 percent in July to 4.6 percent in August — a decrease of 0.7 percentage points. Van Wert and Shelby counties’ unemployment rates fell 0.4 percentage points, while Hardin and Putnam counties declined 0.3 percentage points. Auglaize and Logan counties saw a 0.2 percentage point decrease, while Mercer County’s unemployment rate fell 0.1 percentage points.
Hancock County’s unemployment rate remained stagnant at 3.5 percent.
For the sixth month in a row, Mercer County had the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3 percent. It was followed closely by Putnam County, whose unemployment rate of 3.2 percent was second-best in Ohio. Auglaize and Hancock counties’ 3.5 percent unemployment rates were good for sixth- and seventh-best, respectively.
The highest unemployment rate in the state was Monroe County at 9 percent, followed by Meigs (7.6 percent), Jefferson (7.4 percent), Noble (7.2 percent) and Scioto (7.1 percent) counties.
From July, unemployment rates decreased in 72 Ohio counties, increased in one county and did not change in 15 counties. The comparable unemployment rate for Ohio was 4.7 percent in August, down from 4.8 percent in July.
Though the unemployment rate dipped slightly, a policy analyst with a free-market think tank said the change was a result of the state’s shrinking workforce.
According to The Buckeye Institute, a research and educational institution, 24,000 Ohio residents left the workforce in August — the same amount for July. In addition, this month’s report shows Ohio’s private sector shed 5,000 jobs in August while government added 3,000. Both trends worry Joe Nichols at The Buckeye Institute.
“Three straight months of bad economic news after a strong start to the year for Ohio’s labor market means there’s clearly more work that needs to be done to improve the state’s job climate,” Nichols said. “Reforming Ohio’s tax code and business regulations can put Ohio employers in a stronger position to hire, promote, and reward employees.”
The most job losses in Ohio came in administrative, support and waste services positions, with a total 3,400 jobs lost — a drop of 1.1 percent. The most job gains in August occurred in real estate, rentals and leasing, adding around 1,000 positions, or 1.5 percent.
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima.