Unemployment Edges Up

ST. MARYS — After months on the downswing, unemployment rates across the region edged slightly higher in June.

In data released earlier this week by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Auglaize County’s unemployment rate increased 0.3 percent to settle in at 5.8 percent for June. That figure put the county among the lowest in the state. Mercer County, which has the lowest unemployment in the state, saw an increase of  0.4 percent to 4.6 percent for the month. Last year, Auglaize County’s unemployment rate sat at 7.9 percent.

“When you start to bounce around the lower end, there just isn’t anywhere to go,” Mercer County Economic Development Director Jared Ebbing told The Evening Leader. “You will have those minimal fluctuations because there just isn’t a whole lot of room ... To see it bounce around 0.2 or 0.3 percent isn’t surprising. It could go back down next month but I would expect us to be in the 4 to 5 percent range now. I think that’s going to be where we will be settling in at.”

Ebbing called the uptick a “blip” on the jobs’ radar.

“I wouldn’t chalk it up to one issue or another,” Ebbing said. “Businesses here are still hiring and people are working and companies are still looking for skilled workers.”

In recent months, economic development officials from Auglaize and Mercer counties have been implementing plans regarding workforce development programs that would pair regional employers with employees. Ebbing said one of the common themes he has heard throughout the region is students claiming there is nothing here for them to return to after college.

“There’s as disconnect,” Ebbing said, noting he often hears companies talk about wanting students to return to fill open positions. “If they want to come back and they think there is nothing here, we need to get the word out before they leave of all the great things that are here ... I cannot tell you how many companies are looking for engineers.”

The rest of the region experienced similar increases in unemployment. Allen County is at 7.8 percent (up from 7.6 percent), Shelby County is at 7.1 percent (up from 6.8 percent), Van Wert County is at 7.2 percent (up from 7 percent), Logan County is at 7 percent (up from 6.6 percent), Hardin County is at 7.9 percent (up from 7.1 percent) and Darke County is at 6.8 percent (up from 6.3 percent).