Rates Edge Up

ST. MARYS — After months on the decline, the unemployment rate in Auglaize County edged slightly higher in May.

According to data released by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Auglaize County registered an unemployment rate of 7.6 percent, an increase of 0.3 percent from April’s 7.3 percent. Last year the unemployment rate for the county was at 9 percent.

The trend continued for neighboring counties. Mercer County, which clocked in with the lowest unemployment rate in the state last month, edged up 0.1 percent to 5.9 percent. The slight increase caused Mercer County to fall into a tie with Delaware County for the lowest unemployment rate in the state.

Allen County registered an unemployment rate of 9.4 percent (up from 9.2 percent), Shelby County is at 9.3 percent (up from 9.1 percent) and Hardin County is at 9.7 percent (up from 9.6 percent). Two neighboring counties — Logan County (9.8 percent) and Darke County (9.1 percent) — remained the same and Van Wert County saw a modest drop of 0.1 percent to settle in at 9.1 percent.

“It’s always disappointing when ours bumps up,” Wapakoneta Area Economic Development Council Director Greg Myers told The Evening Leader. “I was hoping we would continue our trend where it would go down.”

Myers said the slight increase could be attributed to seasonal activities at manufacturing sites in the county.

“Even in good years it varies by season,” Myers said. “Sometimes they build up their inventories and scale back in the summer.”

Myers said he has been making retention and expansion visits to county plants as a way to gauge their needs and address any worries or concerns. By doing so, Myers said he hoped county economic development officials can create a snapshot of the current status of the county’s manufacturing base.

“It’s very important because about 80 percent of job growth in the U.S. is not new companies moving in, but companies that are already there that are growing,” Myers said. “We made it a goal this year that we would try to contact every company in Auglaize County. By doing it at once, we can create a document that will reflect the status of manufacturing in the county.”

Statewide, the unemployment rate held steady at 8.6 percent. Last year, the state saw an unemployment rate of 10.2 percent.

Nationally, the unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percent to 9.1 percent. Last year, the unemployment rate for the nation was 9.6 percent.